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Published by the Louisiana State University and Agricultural and Mechanical 
College at Baton Rouge. Issued monthly except November and December. 

Entered December 22, 1909, at Baton Rouge, La., as second-class matter, under 
Act of Congress of July 16, 1894. 

Vol. VIII, N. S. AUGUST 1917. , No. 8 



HistQrical So ciet y 




MILLEDGE L. BONIIAM, JR., Secretary-Treasmer 

/ Professor of History and Political Science in ^ • 

Louisiana Slate University : y 

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Org-anizatioh of the Society 3 

Constitution 6 

Membership 8 


Annual report of the treasurer, etc 9 

Summary of activities for the first year 11 

Account of the Centennial Celebration, January 16, 1917 14 

Extracts from correspondence 18 

Inscription upon the Spanish fort marker 19 


Origin of the Name Baton Rouge, W. O. Scroggs 20 

Salvation of the Parish Records, 1862, John ^^IcGrath. 24 

Lafayette in Baton Rouge, 1825, Miss Sarah T. Stirling 25 

Notes on the Spanish Regime, Joseph A. Loret 29 

History of St. Joseph's Church, Rev. A. Drossaerts 30 

The First Mrs. Jefferson Davis, Miss Loise Simmons 33 

The First Council of the City of Baton Rouge, M. L. Bonham, Jr 36 

Baton Rouge in H istory and Literature, Pierce Butler 40 

Conversation with the Granddaughter of Philemon Thomas, Mrs. 

M. L. Bonham, Jr * 48 


Letter of Col. J. M. Morgan, with Enclosures 50 

Letter from Pointe Coupee, June, 1810 .... ^. 52 

Resolutions of the Convention at St. John's Plains, July, 1810 53 

Letter of a British Officer, 1815 55 

Address of W. B. Robertson, 1860 58 

Menu of Banquet, Opening of the Port, October 17, 1916 60 

Centennial Proclamation of Mayor Grouchy, January 8, 1917 61 

1 [) 9 :- 5 5 

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During the winter of 1S15-16, informal conferences, resulting in a 
"triple entente" were held between General John McGrath and Mr. 
Charles P. Manship; Mr. Manship and Milledge L. Bonham, Jr.. and 
between Mr. Bonham and General McGrath. General McGrath is a 
member of the State Board of Pensions, an octogenerian survivor of 
Walker's first Nicaraguan expedition, and a Confederate veteran. Well 
acquainted with local history, he has frequently contributed short 
sketches to the local papers. Mr. Manship is the editor of the Baton 
Rouge State-Times, who encouraged General McGrath to write these 
sketches. Mr. Bonham was professor of history and political science In 
Louisiana State University. 

As a result of these informal chats and letters, it was decided to take 
steps to organize a historical society. Accordingly, on Saturday, March 
4, 1916, the following appeared in the news columns of the State-Times: 


^ '• :l Committee Calls All Interested to Meet at Alumni Hal 

' "'"* Saturday, March 11. 

A committee co-mposed of Captain John McGrath, Charles P. Man- 
ship and Milledge L. Bonham, Jr., has undertaken the organization of •. 
parish historical society. The committee has issued the following to all 
interested in this movement to meet with them and assist in the work: 

"All persons interested in the history of the city and parish are 
urged to attend a meeting at 3:30 p. m., Saturday, March 11, in the 
auditorium of Alumni Hall, L. S. U. The purpos^ of the meeting is to 
organize a parish historical and genealogical society, for the purpose of 
collecting, preserving and publishing the documents relating to the his- 
tory of our city, parish and state, which are numerous at present, but 
are rapidly disappearing. 

."Particularly are our fellow-citizens of French and Spanish origin 
urged to meet and co-operate with us in this matter. 

"It has been said that 'while the South was making history. New 
England was writing it.' One reason that historians have often neg- 
lected the South is because the data are so scattered as to be inaccessi- 
ble. Local historical societies will do mueh to remedy this. 

"The U. C. V. and the U. D. C. are most cordially urged to unite 
with us in this effort to preserve for future generations the records of 
our forebears. 


' Committee." 

In the same issue appeared the following editorial: 
"We print today an appeal for a meeting on Saturday afternoon, 
March 11, at Louisiana State University, of those interested in the pres- 
ervation of the history of East Baton Rouge Parish. 

"Those who sign this appeal for a meeting, with one exception, 
know little of the past history of the parish. 

- "General John McGrath is perhaps more familiar than any one living 
man with the history of the parish, but the need for this work is urgent, 
if it is to be done at all. 

"The years are fast approaching when it will be impossible to write 
this history. 

"If the work is to be done (and we believe that all realize the chil- 
dren of a parish should be taught something of the history of the parish), 
it must be done now. 

"The meeting is 0T)en to all w^ho are interested in the preservation of 
the history of the parish. 

"Much history, some of it far-reaching in its influence on the nation, 
has been written [made] in Baton Rouge. The part past generations 
played should be known to the living." 

Under the caption "Historical Society Move to Be Parish Wide," 
there appeared in the issue of Monday, March 6', a half column statement 
from Mr. Bonham, explaining further the purposes of the meeting, and 
urging the people from all parts of the parish to come to the meeting. 
The value of old letters, scrapbooks, military commissions, wills and 
other documents was explained. 

On the social page, a brief notice of the meeting appeared on March 
9 and 10, while a news items appeared on the first page on Saturday, 
,th« 11th. 
; As a result of these notices, and the personal urging of the members 

of the committee, twenty-five ladies and g<?ntlemen assembled in Alumni 
-Hall at the time set. City Judge John Fred Odom was called to the 
chair, and after calling the meeting to order, requested General Mc- 
"S ' Grath to state the object of the meeting. After doing so. General Mc- 

Grath moved that the meeting resolve itself into an historical society. 
^ C. C. Bird, Jr., of the Baton Rouge bar, and Howell Morgan, of the 
office of Supervisor of Public Accounts, and Mr. iBonham spoke briefly 
in favor of the motion, which was unanimously carried. 

A draft of a constitution was submitted by the committee, and 
. after full discussion was amended in a few particulars and adopted. 
,■' . The chairman called for the nomination of officers. On nomination 

of Mr. Bonham, seconded by Mr. Morgan and Mr. J. St. Clair Favrot, 
Secretary of the State Board of Equalization, the society unanimously 
chose General McGrath as president. Judge Odom then turned the 
- chair over to the president-elect, and nominated for vice-president Mrs. 
Harriet Fuqua Magruder, teacher of history in the Baton Rouge High 
School, and author of Magruder's History of Louisiana. She was unani- 
mously elected. Dr. W. O. Scroggs, professor of economics and sociology 
in Louisiana State University, nominated Mr. Bonham for secretary- 
treasurer, and he was elected. 

Charles McVea, M. D., Professor Scroggs, Dr. Walter L. Fleming, 
head of the department of history in Louisiana State L'niversity; Mr. 
E. D. Colon, instructor in Spanish in the same; Miss Mittie Kleinpeter; 
Mr. G. A. Waterman, secretary of the Chamber of Commerce; President 
McGrath, and Messrs. F^avrot and Morgan made suggestions as to the 
work and plans of the Society. President Thomas D. Boyd, of Louisiana 
State University, offered the use of the auditoriums of the University 
for the meetings of the Society. 
,- Mr. Howell Morgan had brought with him his son, Thomas Gibbes 

Morgan, whose ninth birthday it was. Learning that fact, Mr. Bonham 
moved that his birthday and that of the Society be celebrated by electing 
him ap honorary member. This was carried unanimously. In putting 



the motion, President McGrath stated that this was the third Thomas 
Gibbes Morgan he had known jiersonally. the other two being the 
great-uncle and great-grandfather of this one. 

During this time a paper was being circulated for the signatures of 
all who wished to become members of the Society. It was found, when 
the paper was returned to the secretary, that all present had signed it. 
Amongst these were several students of the University, one of whom, 
Mr. W. O. ■\\'atson, had spoken in favor of the constitution proposed. 

After some further informal discussion, the meeting adjourned. 

A glance at the list of charter members, on another page, will show 
that seven are ladies. The press, the medical, legal and teaching pro- 
fessions, state and city officials and students are included. 

Mr. Manship was not present at the meeting, but had announced 
his wish to be a member, and, as one of the committee, was of course 
included in the charter members. 

Two other gentlemen are almost charter members. On his way 
home, the secretary saw Captain O. B. Steele, vice-president of the 
Bank of Baton Rouge, and Col. I. D. Wall, of the Baton Rouge bar, both 
of whom expressed regret at having been unable to attend the meeting, 
and asked to be enrolled as members. 

Perhaps this is as good a place as any to say that though he has not 
been regular in his attendance, Mr. Manship has, through the generous 
use of his news and editorial space, contributed largely to the success 
that has attended the efforts of the Society so far. 






The name of this association shall be "THE HISTORICAL SO- 


Any (white) person interested in the history of these parishes and 
of this state may become a member either upon his own application or 
by th6 nomination of any member in good standing. 

The officers hereinafter provided for are authorized to admit new 


The purposes of this organization shall be the collection, preserva- 
tion and publication of historical documents and data, particularly 
those relating to this locality; the location and marking of historical 
sites; the discussion of questions of historical interest, and such similar 
and cognate business as may be from time to time decided upon. 


§ 1. Immediately after election to the Society, each member shall 
pay a fee of One Dollar ($1); and each year thereafter each member 
shall pay dues of One Dollar ($1) per annum, payable in March, 

§ 2. Such fees and other income the Society may acquire shall con- 
stitute a fund to pay current expenses, such as postage, stationery, 
printing, etc. When the funds in the treasury may warrant it, the Gen- 
eral Committee hereinafter provided for, may authorize the publication 
of such documents as they deem worthy of a wider circulation. 


§ 1. The Society shall meet monthly at the time and place to be 
fixed by the General Committee. Special meetings may be called by the 
President at discretion, or on request of three (3) members. 

§ 2. Ten (10) members in good standing shall constitute a quorum 
for the transaction of business. 


§ 1. At the annual meeting in March the following officers shall be 
elected, by ballot or otherwise, as the Society may determine: 

(a) A president, who shall discharge the usual duties of such 

an officer. 

(b) A vice-president, who shall preside in the absence of" the 


(c) A secretary-treasurer, who shall keep the records and funds 

of the Society, act as custodian of its archives and pre- 
serve any documents which may be donated or lent to 
, ■ ' the Society. 

§2. These officers, with two (2) other members appointed by the 
President shall constitute a General Committee, whose duty it shall be 
to prepare programs for the regular meetings of the Society; to audit 



the treasurer's books at least once a year, and to endeavor to extend 
the membership and usefulness of the Society. 

§ 3. The Society may provide for the appointment of other stand- 
j : ing and special committees, as occasion may arise. 


Amendments to this .Constitution must be submitted in writing-, and 
must be voted on at two successive meetings to be adopted. A majority 
of the votes cast shall be sufficient to adopt. 


(Proposed February 17,' 1917; ratified March 17.) 

When the annual dues of any member shall remain unpaid for 
twelve (12) months, his name shall be stricken from the roll. He may 
be reinstated upon the re<:ommendation of two (2) members in g-ood 
standing-, upon the payment of one year's dues. 




(Corrected to the end of February, 1917.) 



Mrs. Harriet Fuqua Magruder 

Milledge L. Bonham, Jr. 

Master Thomas Gibbes Morgan, 3rd 



Bird, C. C. Esq. 

Bonham, M. L., Jr. 

Bonham, Mrs. M. L., Jr. 

Boyd, T. D. 

Colon, E. D. 

Favrot, J. St. C. 

Favrot, Mrs. J. St. C. 

Fleming, W. L. 

Gauthreaux, Miss Leila, Minden, La. 

Kleinpeter, Miss Mittie. 

Lawrence, T. G. 

Loret, J. A. 

McGrath, John 

McVea, Chas. 

Magruder, Mrs. H. F. 

Manship, C. P. 

Morgan, Cecil 

Morgan, Howell 

Odom, J. F. 

Scroggs, W. O. 

Simmons, Miss Lois L. 

Staples, O. B. 

Walsworth, M. A., St. Joseph, 

Waterman, G. A. 

Watson, W. O. 

Wilkinson, Miss Rhoda 


Baibin, Mrs. L. U. 

Barfield, Mrs. D. R. 

Bres, J. H., Port Allen, La. 

Cross, T. J. 

Doherty, Miss Gladys 

Emerson, F. V. 

Farrnbacher, Miss Caroline 

Farrnbacher, Solon 

Favrot, C. A., New Orleans, La. 

Favrot, G. K. 

Y ^. '- J ^ New Orleans, La. 

Garict:, H. L. 

Gebelin, Joseph 

Goyer. Mrs. S. C. ^* 

Grant, Mrs. A. G. 

Grouchy. Alex, Jr. 

Harris, Mrs. L.- R. 

Hill, George, Port Allen. La. 

Hill, Miss Katharine 

McGrath, Miss M. B. 

Prescott, A. T. 

Ricaud, L. J. 

Schoenbrodt, Miss Margaret 

Sparks, R. M. 

Steele, O. B. 

Stirling, Miss Sarah 

Strickland, H. K. 

Stroud. C. ,C. 

Stumberg. Miss Martha 

Taylor, B. R.' 

Trappey, A. S. H. 

Tullis. R. L. 

Wall, I. D. 

Waterman, Mrs. G. A. 

Whitehead, F. J., Port Allen. La. 

(Unless given elsewhere, the address of a member is *Baton Rouge.) 






March 12, 1917. 
To th9 General Committee: 

I herewith submit a balance sheet of the operations of the treasury 
of the Society for the fiscal year March, 1916, to February, 1917, inclu- 
sive. Accomi»anying' this report are the vouchers, bank-book, cancelled 
checks, correspondence files, minute-book and cash-book, which I re- 
quest you to audit in accordance with Article VI, Section 2, of the Con- 
stitution. I suggest that this be done at once, so that a report thereon 
may be made by the General Committee at the annual business meeting, 
on the 17th instant. 

In the minutes for Fel^ruary 17, 1917, will be found a reference to a 
check for Five Dollars ($5) from Captain C. B. Hodges. As .Captain 
Hodges explicitly stated (see his letter) that this was a contribution for 
the expenses of the Centennial, the check was endorsed to the chairman 
of the Finance Committee of the Centennial, and the amount does not 
appear at all on the Society's books, as it was not intended to ;be part 
of the Society's funds. 

When this Society was organized, my personal account was in the 
Bank of Baton Rouge, my wife's in the Louisiana National. To avoid 
any chance of confusion, I deposited the Society's funds at the third 
bank in the city, viz., the Capital City. That has since become the Mer- 
cantile, with a member of this Society (Capt. O. B. Steele) as its pres- 
ident. Our funds are still there, and our dealings with this bank, under 
both regimes, have been entirely satisfactory. 

Respectfully submitted, • ■ - 

MILLEDGE L. BONHAM, JR., Treasurer. 



March, 1916, by annual dues for 1916 $26.00 

April Same 6.00 

May " 8.00 

July " 1.00 

September " 3.00 

October .' " 6.00 

November " 7.00 

January, 1917 " , . 1.00 

February " I.OO 

" by annual dues for 1917 4.00 

Total $63.00 







By Months 

March % 2.30 

April 13.25 

May 70 

October 6.75 

November 3.10 


January 32.15 

February 1.55 

Total $59.80 

Total receipts $63.00 

Less expenditures 59.80 

By Items 

For 1 minute book $ 0.25 

For 1 letter file 25 

For 3 books receipt blanks 30 

One cash book lo 

For (banquet 5.00 

For Times-Picayune, Jan. 7.. 1.00 
For flowers (funeral Mrs. Mc- 

Grath) 2.10 

For stationery 6.75 

For printing- 1.50 

For postage 10.90 

For janitor 1.00 

For Centennial Celebration: 

Spanish Fort monument... 16.85 

Moving piano 5.00 

Committee 1.25 

Expenses of speaker 6.80 

For rubber stamp 75 

Balance $ 3.20 

Total ; $59.80 


Assets. Liabilities. 

Balance on deposit $3.20 

Uncollected dues for 1916 1.00 


Total $4.20 

This is a true statement to the best of my knowledge and belief. 

Treasr. His. Soc. E. and W. B. R. 

On motion of Mrs. Magruder seconded by Mr. Waterman, the report 
of the treasurer was adopted and approved, March 17, 1917. 

(Signed) G. A. W. 


March 17, 1917. 
To the Society: 

The organization of this committee was completed by the appoint- 
ment of Miss Kleinpeter and Mr. Waterman as members, March 21, 1916. 

March 22, the committee met, authorised the secretary to arrange 
programs, etc., and discussed other matters, some of which were acted 
upon by the Society at subsequent meetings, such as arranging for the 

The committee directed the President to represent the Society at the 
banquet to celebrate the opening of the Port of Baton Rouge. October 17, 
1917, and ordered the treasurer to draw a check for ticket for same. 

The committee met in Alumni Hall, March 17, 1917, audited the 
treasurer's books and found them correct; authorized the secretary to 







edit a volume of proceeding's, when funds and material should warrant, 
and authorized the treasurer to pay not more than $10 towards the ex- 
penses of the Centennial, if it should be needed. 
• . . Respectfully submitted, 

JOHN McGRATH, Chairman, 
,(' For the Committee. 


YEARS 1916-1917. 

Between its organization, in March, 1916, and the end of February, 
1917, the membership of the Society increased from twenty-six to sixty- 
one, of whom nineteen were ladies. The total membership represented 
three other parishes besides East and West Baton Rouge. Master Gibbes 
Morgan, III, is the only honorary member. 

Eleven regular monthly meetings and one called meeting have been 
held. A twelfth monthly meeting was arranged for. but for lack of a 
quorum was not held. At the regular meetings the following programs 
were rendered: 

Friday Afternoon, April 7, 1916, Alumni Hall, L. S. U. 

Origin of the Name of Baton Rouge* — Dr. "VV. O. Scroggs, Professor of 

Economics and Sociology, L. S. U. 
Reading of the Proclamation and Statutes for the Organization of the 

Parishes of East and West Baton Rouge — Miss Lois Simmons. 
Saving the Parish Records in 1862* — President M<2Grath. 

Tuesday Evening, May 9, 1916, Alumni Hall. 
Coming of the Acadians to Louisiana; Typical Episodes — Hon. H. L. 
Favrot, of the New Orleans bar. 

Thursday Afternoon, June 15, Garig Hall, L. S. U. 

(Special program on "The French Element in Local History," under the 
direction of Mrs, L. U. Babin, president of the Civic Club.) 

Lafayette in Baton Rouge in 1825? — Miss Sarah Stirling, Librarian, U. 
• D. C. Library. 

A. Letter from Pointe Coupee, June 24, ISlOt — President McGrath. (Dis- 
cussed by Prof. Fleming.) 

Saving Baton Rouge from Bombardment, 1S62 — Miss Irene Pujol. 

Monday Evening, July 31, Alumni Hall. 
Notes on the Spanish Regime* — Joseph A. Loret, of the Baton Rouge bar. 

Thursday Afternoon, September 28, Alumni Hall. 
(Program again arranged my Mrs. Babin.) 
Lafayette in Baton Koui^e, 1825 (repeated by request) — Miss Stirling. 
Items from Old French Newspapers — :Mrs. L. T. Dugazon. 
Exhibition and Discussion of French Rings, Documents, Commission and 
other Historical Relics — Mr. J. St. Clair Favrot, French and Bel- 
gian Consular Agent. 

* See Part HL 
t See Part IV. 








Anecdotes in the "Cajun" Dialect — Mr, A. F. Cazedessus. 

Songs, Stories, etc.. in the Dialect of Negroes in Creole Communities — 

Mr. A. S. H. Trappey, Instructor in French, L. S. U. 
Capture of Baton Rouge in ISIO (from K. I^. Favrot's sketch) — Miss 

Rhoda Wilkinson. 

Thursday Evening, October 12, Alumni Hall. 
Reading of Joafiuin Miller's "Columbus" — Mrs. A. IVI. Herget. 
History of St. Joseph's Church* — Father Arthur Drossaerts. 
The First Mrs. Jefferson Davis* — Miss Lois Simmons. 
The First Municipal Council of Baton Rouge'^ — M. L. Bonham, Jr. 

•Thursday Aftei noon, November 16, City Hall. 
Captain O. B. Steele was to have discussed "Early Railroads about 
Baton Rouge," but on account of sore throat was excused. 

Thursday Evening, December 14, Alumni Hall. 
Death and Burial of George Washington — H. L. Garrett, of the Peabody 

High School. 
A Conversation with the Granddaughter of Philemon Thomas* — Mrs. M. 

L. Bonham, Jr. 

Saturday Afternoon, January 6, 1917, City Hall. 
Called meeting; decided to erect a marble marker on site of Spanish 
fort. Same to be unveiled on Centennial Day. 

Tuesday Morning, January 16, 1917 — Centennial Meeting, Alumni Hall. 

Address of Welcome — Hon. I. D. Wall, Vice-President Board of Super- 
visors, L. S. U. 

Soprano Solo: "When My Ships Come Sailing Home" (Dorel) — Miss 
Eleanor Taylor, Teacher of Voice, L. S. U. 

Baton Rouge in 1S17 and 1917 — Mayor Alex Grouchy, Jr. 

Baritone Solo: "Armorer's Song" (DeKoven) — :\lr. W, S. Wilkinson. 

Baton Rouge in History and Literature* — Dr. Pierce Butler, Professor 
of English, Xewcomb College. 

"Soprano St>lo: "A Bowl of Roses" (Clarke)— Mrs. C. C. Hewlett. 

Baton Rouge and Louisiana State University — Dr. Thomas D. Boyd, 
President of L. S. U. 

Impromptu Remarks — Hon. RufRn G. Pleasant, Governor of Louisiana. 
[Because of inclement weather, the dedication of the Spanish fort 

marker had to be postponed.] 

. Saturday Afternoon, February 17, French Classroom, L. S. U. 

At this meeting the deferred address of Captain Steele on "Early 
Railroads" was to have been followed by the dedication of the marker, 
with an address on the West Florida Revolution, by Professor A. T. 
Prescott, of L. S. U. Bad weather, with the consequent poor attend- 
ance, caused the postponing of this program to September. 

♦See Part III. 







At the called meeting and four of the regular meetings, President 
McGrath was in the chair. From the others he was detained by illness. 
At the meetings of July 31, 1916, and February 17, 1917, Dr. W. O. 
Scroggs occupied the chair, the president and vice-president both being 
absent. At the meeting of October 12, Mrs. ?I. F. IMagruder, vice-pres- 
ident, took the chair; Mayor Grouchy presided at the meeting of No- 
vember 16, and Col. I. D. Wall at that of December 14. Both president 
and vice-president ibeing absent, and the regular order of business 
omitted, the secretary-treasurer presided at the meeting of January 16. 

The marker provided for at the meeting of January 6, was erected 
in time for the Centennial, but, as noted abo\'e, weather twice precluded 
its tiedication. It is hoped to accomplish this on the anniversary of the 
battle, in September, 1917. 

As early as the spring of 1916, President McGrath, the secretary, 
and Hon. Louis J. Ricaud, Commissioner of Finance of Baton Rouge, 
began to discuss the question of celebrating the centennial of the in- 
corporation of the city, on January 16, 1816. To this end, a committee 
was appointed at the May meeting. Absence of two members during 
the summer, and sickness in the family of the third, prevented much 
progress. At their own request, this committee was discharged in 
October, and a new one, with Miss Margaret Schoenbrodt, teacher of 
history in the Peabody High School, as chairman, and Mrs. D. R. Bar- 
field and Mr. J, A. Loret, was appointed. The very successful activities 
of this committee are set forth in the next article. 

During the absence of the secretary-treasurer, June to August in- 
clusive, the duties of this office were discharged to the entire satisfac- 
tion of the Society by Superintendent J. H. Bres, of Port Allen. 

Besides numerous letters (some of which are quoted elsewhere), the 
Society has received during the past year the following gifts: 

From President McGrath — A letter from Pointe Coupee, 1810;* Ac- 
count of the Convention of July, 1810.* 

From the Louisiana Historical Society — Parts II and III of Volume 
I of its "Publications," containing Mr. Favrot's account of the West 
Florida Revolution. 

From the Louisiana State Museum — Fifth Biennial Report, 1914-15. 

From the Connecticut State Library — Reports of the Librarian, 
1912-14; Reports of Examiner of Public Records, 1912-14; Summary of 
Activities, 1915; List of Manuscript Histories. 

From Colonel James Morris Morgan, of Washington, D. C. — Volume 
42, No. 1, of the "Naval Institute Proceedings." 

From Dr. W. O. Scroggs — G. E. Fuller's "Suggestions for Local His- 
torical Societies." 

From the New Jersey Historical Society — Proceedings for July- 
October. 1915. 

From Mr. Ben Roumain — New Orleans "Weekly Delta,' March 27, 
1853; Baton Rouge "Weekly Gazette and Comet,' November 16, 1S61; 
Baton Rouge "Courier," July 30, 1870; Baton Rouge "Grand Era," Feb- 
ruary 14, 1S74. 

From the Oklahoma Historical Society — "Historia" for April, Octo- 
ber, 1916. January, 1917. 

From the Alabama Department of History and Archives — Form for 
Biographical Memoranda. 

From Mrs. L. R. Harris — Address of W. B. Robertson to the People 
of West Baton Rouge.* 

*See Part IV. 






From Mr. Howell Morgan — Letter (and enclosures) from Col. J. M. 
Morgan- • 

From Prof. E. D. Adams, of Stanford University — Letter of a British 
Officer, 1815.* 

During- this year, members of the Society have made various con- 
tributions to historical literature. So far as they have come to the ed- 
itor's notice, they are as follows: 

President McGrath has continued to write sketches for the local 
paper; Dr. Fleming- has contributed an essay to the "Proceedings of 
the Mississippi Valley iiistorical Society;" Dr. Scroggs has published a 
volume, "Filibusters and P'inanciers," and reviews in the "Mississippi 
Valley Historical Review." Col. I. D. Wall addressed the Louisiana 
Historical Society in December on the subject of the Baton Rouge Cen- 
tennial. The secretary contrilnited an article on the same to the "Mis- 
sissippi Valley Historical Review" and an essay to the "Soutri Atlantic 

At the m.eeting of July. 1916, on the motion of G. K. Favrot, Esq., 
the Society addressed a resolution to the Police Jury of East Baton 
Rouge, urging that steps be taken for safeguarding the valuable records 
of the French and Spanish regimes, now in the courthouse. Mr. Man- 
ship seconded this by a strong editorial in the "State-Times." 


Shortly after the Society was organized the President mentioned to 
the secretary that Baton Rouge had become a municipality in 1817, and 
that formal exercises should be held to commemorate this event. The 
secretary then got in touch with the Hon. L. J. Ricaud, Commissioner of 
Finance of the city of Baton Rout,e. 

At the April meeting the matter was discussed, but action was de- 
ferred until the May meeting, when a committee was appointed to con- 
fer with other local organizations, and make plans for a celebration. 
This committee reported progress, from time to time, but because of ill- 
ness and absence, could not accomplish much. At the October meeting, 
a new committee was appointed, with Miss Margaret Schoenbrodt, 
Jieacher of history in the Peabody High School, as its chairman. Mrs. 
D. R. Barfleld and rvlr. J. A. Loret were the other members. This com- 
mittee was given full authority to co-operate with the City Commission, 
the Chamber of Commerce, the Police Jury, and all other organizations 
who were interested, and to prepare plans for an appropriate celebration. 

Before following the activities of this committee, it might be well to 
glance for a moment at the history of Baton Rouge. For the sake of 
brevity, this is given in outline form. 

March 17, 1699: discovered and named by Pierre LeMoyne, Sieur 

Settled early in the eighteenth century; exact date unknown. 

1763: ceded to Great Britain; name changed to Fort Richmond. 

1779: captured, September 21, by Gov. Galvez and his American 

1803: Spaniards at Galveztown (in present Ascension parish) move 
to Baton Rouge, because rest of I..ouisiana ceded to United States. 

1810: American and British inhabitants of West Florida revolt 
against Spanish rule, seize fort at Baton Rouge, and proclaim "Republic 
of West Florida." Annexed by Gov. Claiborne as part of Louisiana pur- 

•See Part IV. 





[Thus far, Baton Rouge had had no municipal government; the 
commandant of the post made such regulations for the settlers as he 
deemed necessary.] 

IS 17: January 16, Gov. Villere signs statute for the organization of 
a municipal government. (See article by Bonham in Part III.) 

Iii25: visited by Lafayette. 

1850: becomes state capital. 

1852: constitutional convention held here. 

1861: secession convention meets; United States arsenal seized. 

1862: April, occupied by Federals; August 5, battle of Baton Rouge; 
December, state house burned, 

1869: Louisiana State Seminary (later Louisiana State University) 
moves to Baton Rouge. 

1879: capital changed back to Baton Rouge from New Orleans. 

1909: Standard Oil Refinery established. 

1913: Constitutional conventio.n. Free parish fair established. 

1914: Commission government adopted. Organized Charities estab- 
lished by Catholics, Protestants and Jews. 

1916: Historical Society organized. Baton Rouge made a port of 

1917: January 10th to 16th, $62,450 raised to establish a Y. M. C. A. 
Janyary 16, Centennial celebrated. 

It is of interest to note that eight flags have flown over Baton Rouge, 
as follows: 

From the establishment of the fort to 1763: white banner of the 

1763 to 1779: British flag. 

1779 to 1810: Spanish flag. 

1810: flag of West Florida; a silver star in the center of a blue 
woolen field. 

1810 to 1861: Stars and Stripes of the United States. Also since 

1861: January to March, flag of the independent state of Louisiana; 
a red union with a single pale yellow star; thirteen stripes of blue (4), 
white (6), and red (3), in that order. 

1861-62: the Stars and Bars of the Confederacy. 

Since about 1880: the Pelican flag of Louisiana. 

[The tricolor of the French republic, raised by Laussat at New 
Orleans in 1803, appears never to have flown as a sovereign flag at Baton 
Rouge. It, however, makes nine flags that have floated over one part or 
another of the state.] 

It having been decided at the October meeting that January 16, 1917, 
' was the right date for the centenary. Miss Schoenbrodt's committee pro- 
ceeded to get vigorously to work. The City Commission appointed Mayor 
Grouchy as its representative; the Police Jury selected its President, 
Mr. Joseph Gebelin; the Chamber of Commerce appointed Col. I. D. 
Wall; the School Board appointed live members, of whom Mr. Solon 
Farrnbacher was the one that did the work; the Civic Association ap- 
pointed Mrs. C. K. Stumberg and the T. P. A., Mr. J. St. Clair Favrot. 
These ladies and gentlemen, with some others, met in the Mayor's office 
and organized by choosing Miss Schoenbrodt chairman, the mayor sec- 
retary, Mr. Gebelin treasurer and ex-officio chairman of a subcommittee 
on finance. In passing it may be said that Mr. Gebelin was the whole 
committee, and succeeded in raising nearly $700 to defray the expenses 
of the celebration. 





It was decided to invite the public schools, the fraternal orders, the 
Confederate Veterans, Daughters of the Confederacy, tl University, 
Jind other local bodies to co-operate. Most of them responded gallantly. 

With the details of the plans of the committee, we are not concerned, 
as they were necessarily modified from time to time. The following 
results speak for themselves: 

The United States Torpedo-Destroyers, "Sterrett," "Lamson" and 
"Monaghan," under the command of Uieut. G. W. Simpson, were then in 
the port, and at the request of the Chamber of Commerce agreed to 
open the celebration by a parade of the "Jackies" at 10:30 a. m. A 
drenching rain prevented this, so the celebration opened with a joint 
meeting of the Louisiana Historical Society and the local society, at 
11 a. m., in Alumni Hall. In the absence of both the president and vice-- 
president, the secretary-treasurer took the chair, and after expressing 
regret that grippe had kept President McGrath away, introduced the one 
whom the president had selected to welcome the visitors In his name: 
Colonel Isaac D. Wall, vice-president of the Board of Supervisors of 
Louisiana State University, and a member of each of the societies met 
together. In the names of the city, the parish, the society, the univer- 
sity, and the centennial committee, and Gen. McGrath, Col. Wall elo- 
quently bade the guests welcome. 

Honorable Alexander Grouchy, Jr., mayor of Baton Rouge, con- 
trasted the village of 1817 with the city of 1917. as an earnest of what 
Baton Rouge intends to do in the future. 

The address of the day was delivered by Dr. Pierce Butler, the 
biographer of Judah P. Benjamin, professor of English at Newcomb 
College, and the official representative of the Louisiana Historical So- 
ciety. His theme was "'Baton Rouge in History and Literature." It was 
treated in a manner worthy of the subject, the occasion and the author.* 

Dr. Thomas D. Boyd, president of Louisiana State University, spoke 
on the relations of the city and the university, relating some interesting 
incidents of the removal of the school to Baton Rouge, and its early 
days here. 

At appropriate intervals, during this program, three vocal solos, 
arranged by the university's department of music, were rendered. 

After 'thanking various distinguished visitors for their presence, the 
chairman called on Governor Ruffin G. Pleasant for a word. As gov- 
ernor, as president of the board of supervisors and as president of the 
alumni federation of the university, Governor Pleasant expressed his 
pleasure, approval and interest in the celebration. 

The chairman announced that the society had erected a marker on 
the site of .the old Spanish fort, captured by the West P'lorida troops in 
1810. It was the intention to have ]Mrs. Lucretia Bridges, the eighty- 
eight year old granddaughter of Gen. Thomas dedicate it. But as the 
rain was still pouring, this also had to be postponed until better weather. 
The same was true of the dress parade and concert which the cadets 
and the band of the university had arranged for the afternoon. 

A pageant consisting of ten tableaux, concluding the celebration, 
was rendered that evening at the Elks Theatre. As an introduction to 
each picture, the student orchestra, especially drilled for the occasion by 
Director H. W. Stoj^her, rendered an appropriate selection. "Carry the 
News" was the cue for Iberville, naming the city. On the bluff over- 
looking the river, stood wigwams, a totem pole, and Indians. Facing 
them were Iberville and his voyageurs. In the middle background was 
a large pole, reddened with the blood dripping from fishheads and bear- 
heads. This scene was excellently staged by the local lodges of Red 
Men and Woodmen of the World. 








The Spanish national march prepared the way for Galvez' capture of 
the British f\ in 1779. This was presented by Knights of Columbus, 
assisted by an Indian or so from the Red Men. r>icl<son is extending 
his sword to Gahez, while one prepares to lower the British flag and 
another to replace it with the banner of Spain. Dead and wounded lie 
about tlie parapet, Indians, a negro, Spanish and British uniforms con- 
trast with the hunting shirts of the backwoodsmen. 

"Hail, Columbia," signaled that the West Florida forces were taking 
the fort from the Spanish, in 1810. Supported by two soldiers, the dying 
Grandpre glares at Philemon Thomas and his motley horde. The Odd 
Fellows contributed this fine tableau. 

The strains of "Our Flag Is There" announced the appearance of the 
first city council, that of ISIS. One member stands haranguing his col- 
leagues who are setited about the council table, while another consults a 
book. The young students of the university, who posed this tableau, 
dressed appropriately a,nd held their poses "well. 

The stirring "Marseillaise," after being encored by the audience, is 
the cue for the visit of Lafayette in 1S25. Lafayette, in the uniform of a 
French general, has just stepped from the steamer at the wharf. At his 
left stands Governor Henry Johnson, who has accompanied him from 
New Orleans. Behind them stand Lafayette's aides, at salute. Grasp- 
ing Lafaye^tte's hand is the mayor of Baton Rouge, behind whom stands 
a group of councillors and citizens. This, perhaps the best posed tableau 
of the lot, \Aas presented by the Knights of Pythias. 

Orchestral music now gave place to the piano, on which Miss Lei'a 
Opdenweyer, of the university department of music, softly played the 
"Tvlinuet al Anticiue." The curtain rose upon a ballroom. I^afayette, 
with a fair Baton Rougean, is opening the ball in his honor, while other 
couples are appropriately posed back of them. The Pythian Lafayette 
and young ladies and gentlemen of "town and gown" produced this 
scene, which was, of course, the prettiest of the evening. 

"The Red, White and Blue" was the cue for the norification of 
Zachary Taylor that he has been nominated by the Whigs fi>r the i^resi- 
dency. "Old Rough and Ready" stands before his porch, in full uniform, 
while the chairman holds out to him the official notice. The rest of the 
committee stand behind the chairman. If tradition be true, this picture 
.was r.ot accurate, for "Old Zach" is said to have suspected that a joke 
was being played upon him. and swore violently at the committee. The 
courteous Creole who impersonated Taylor could not, however, bring 
himself even to scowl, but looked benignantly at the committee. Here 
again, town, gown, and fraternal orders co-operated to put the pic- 
ture on. 

The audience joined in singing "Dixie" and "The Bonnie Blue Flag," 
which announced the "Signing of the Ordinance of Secession." Seated 
at the table were President Mouton, of the convention, and John Perkins. 
Jr.. who moved the ordinance. As the president's quill touched the 
paper, the rest of the convention looked on with faces indicative of the 
gravity of the event. As it was impossible to secure any of the original 
signers, the actors who took part in this tableau were all Confederate 
vetenms. their sons, or their grandsons. This picture was arranged by 
the local chapters of Daughters of the Confederacy. 

"Louisiana Loyalty" naturally opened the curtain for the coming of 
Louisiana State ITniversity to Baton Rouge. On each side of the en- 
trance to the campus stood cadet officers and privates, with arms pre- 
sented to the entering faculty. Bona lide cadets took that part, while 
seniors in cap and gown stood for the faculty. Over the campus, the 
sun slowly rose to the zenith. 







The removal of the capital to Baton Rouge was announced by "Hail 
to the Chief." This event was typified by the inauguration of Gov. S. D. 
McEnery, the first to take the oath in Baton Rouge. The local district 
judye (II. F. Brunot) impersonated the chief justice, while the professor 
of public speaking- was the governor. Grouped back of them were sol- 
diers, cadets, and citizens, %Ahile the state house towered above all. This 
was another to\\n and gown picture, and the last of all. 

But the curtain went up once more, disclosing the university glee 
club, who, directed by Prof. Stopher, sang "A Toast to Baton Rouge," 
written by the professor of public speaking and adapted to a Harvard 
tune. After this was encored, the audience stood and joined in singing 
"America" and the "Star-Spangled Banner." 

Great credit is due to all the persons and organizations who assisted 
in making this celebration a success. The highest praise is due to the 
efficient chairman of the Centennial Committee, Miss ^Margaret Schoen- 
brodt, who, by her zeal, patience, industry and tact, surmounted every 
obstacle that threatened the centennial. Next, Professor John Quincy 
Adams, of the public speaking department, L. S. U., deserves credit for 
his work in drilling and rehearsing, costuming and participating in the 
tableaux and writing the toast. Without the splendid work of Professor 
H. \V. Stopher, in selecting and conducting musical numbers for each 
event, the program would have lost much. 

In passing, be it said that admission to every event was free. 

No fitter ending for this account can be found than the first and 
last stanzas of Professor Adams* "Toast": 

"Sing to Baton Rouge, that lies in the plain — 

Hurrah for the old and the new; 
Old are the scenes as we glide thru the past, 

Beholding the marvelous view. 
Yes, old the fields of the Redman bold, 

And older the stream of his bark canoe; . .. . 

. Hail, Hail, to the city that beams in the sun, 

Hurrah for the old and the new! 

Here's to the city whose glory we sing. • 
Hurrah for the town that is true; 
; Here's to the city where honor is king, 

Our hearts we are pledging to you. 
". ■ O rare the charms of the town debonnair. 

And so rich the history centered there; 
. . . Hail. Hail, to the burg of the Highlands so fair, 

Hurrah for the town that's, true!" 


a. Profe.<=:sor William A. Dunning, Columbia University, March 29, 1916. 

"I certainly congratulate you heartily on the organization of the His- 
torical Society of East and West Eaton Rouge. These local historical 
societies have always appeared to me to be the very foundation of our 
real history. The records that they i)reserve and the information that 
their members transmit orally are of the utmost value to the later syn- 
thesis that we call real history. I shall he much interested to hear 
how productive your new organization is in the peculiarly fertile soil in 
which it is working." 

b. Dr. Dunbar Rowland, Director of the Department of History, Jack- 

son, Miss. 
' April 3, 1916. 

176. Z 





"I am delighted to hear that you have organized an historical so- 
ciety in Baton Rouge." 

c. Dr. T. M. Owen, Director Dept. of Archives and History, Mont- 

gomery, Alabama. 
March 23. 1916. 

"I congratulate you on the formation of the Society and you have 
my bes*, wishes for its most abundant success." 

d. President Gaspar Cusachs, Louisiana Historical Society, New Orleans. 

March 21, 3 916. 

"You may be certain. that the Louisiana Historical Society -uill not 
be jealous of its sister from East and West Baton Rouge, and will do 
what is in its power to help it. I, as president, am ready to help your 
society . . . Baton Rouge has a very large field . . .Should 
any of your members come to New Orleans, let them call at the.Cabildo, 
as we propose to make them quite at home." 

e. Hon. L. U. Babin, Collector of the Port of Baton Rouge and Presi- 

dent of the Chamber of Commerce, October 12, 1916. 
"I am writing to express to you and your society my particular in- 
terest in the celebration of Baton Rouge as a port of entry and to let 
you know that I regard your organization and its functions as important 
in the history of events and occasions. Also that I would heartily appre- 
ciate whatever interest and success you may add to the formal opening 
of the port, Tuesday, October 17th." 

f. Captain C. B. Hodges, U. S. A., January 17, 1917. 

"Permit me to congratulate you and the Historical Society of East 
and West Baton Rouge on the splendid entertainment staged by you last 
night for the centennial celebration. It was tine. 

"I have heard no call for funds, but am sure same will be needed, and 
I therefore take the liberty of enclosing a small check. This is not a 
'donation,' for the show was 'worth the money.' You deserve much 

g. Miss Grace King, New Orleans, December, 1916. 

"I have been reading over and over your very flattering invitation 
to make an address on the occasion of your celebration of January 16, 
1917. Pride urges me to do so. I do not know anything that would give 
me more pleasure; the kind of pleasure that I enjoy. But, unfortunately, 
I am not strong enough. If Baton Rouge had been founded a few years 
earlier, my physician would have bade me Godspeed on such an errand, 
instead of holding me back with a veto. But I shall be with you in Si>irit. 
on your glorious anni\'ersary, if I am not present in person with the dele- 
gation from the Louisiana Historical Society." 


On this site stood the Spanish fort captured by the forces of the 
Republic of West- Florida, September 23, ISIO. 

Erected by the Historical Society of East and West Baton Rouge, 
January 16, 1917, in celebration of the centennial of the city's incorpora- 

[•This check was for five dollars. As it was immediately turned 
over to Treasurer Gebelin of the Centennial Committee, it does not ap- 
pear upon the balance sheet above. — Editor.] 








[Read at the meeting of April 7, 1916, by Dr. William O. Scrog^gs, 
Professor of Economics and Sociology in Louisiana State Uni- 
All authorities agree that the name Baton Rouge which now desig- 
nates the capital city of Louisiana, was Urst used by Iberville and his 
companio.ns when they made their voyajre up the Mississippi river early 
in 1699. When we seek to determine, however, just why the French 
explorers came to employ these words, we are confronted ^vith two 
contradictory explanations. As every student of history knows, such a 
contradiction is no uncommon thing, but it is indeed surprising that 
each of these explanations should have its champions at the present 
day, when by applying the simplest canons of historical criticism one 
of them is completely discredited and the other fully authenticated. 
According to one account, the name Baton Rouge was derived from a 
gigantic cypress tree which stood on the east bank of the Mississippi 
river, presumably within the limits of the present city. As the wood 
of the cypress is of a reddish tinge, and as its trunk, tall and straight, 
suggested a pole (baton) to the early explorers, this striking landmark. 
we are told, caused the site to be called Baton Rouge, or Red Pole. This 
explanation is the one preferred by Gayarre, and it has therefore been 
widely accepted by students of local history. 

According to the other account, the name owes its origin to a red 
pole set up on the bank of a small stream by the Indians, either for 
sacrificial purposes or to mark the boundary between the hunting 
grounds of the Houmas and the Bayougoulas. 

It is quite obvious that one of these explanations must be errone- 
ous. The "tree version," backed by the authority of Gayarre, has been 
more generally accepted than the "pole version," and there has been 
an attempt to leconcile the two accounts by the supposition that the 
tall cypress might have been stripped of limbs and bark by wind and 
lightning and thus have really been a "baton rouge." Such an explanation 
is ingenious, but. for reasons which will appear hereafter, it is by no 
means convincing. 

There is but one way of determining which of these stories is correct, 
and that is to trace them to their sources. The "tree version" can be 
traced to LePage du Pratz's "Histoire de la Louisiana," which was pub- 
lished in Paris in 1T3S. In this work the author explains the origin of 
the name Baton Rouge in the following manner: "Baton Rouge is to the 
east of the river. There you may see the famous cypress out of which 
a boat builder wished to make two pirogues, one of sixteen and the other 
of fourteen tons. As the cypress is a red wood, one of the first explorers 
who arfived in this district was heard to say that this tree would make 
a 'beautiful baton, whence they called it Baton Rouge. Its height has 
not yet been measured. It is lost to view."* 

On examining this statement we readily note a number of weak 
points. In the first place, the account of du Pratz was published fifty- 
nine years after the exploration of this region by Iberville, and it cannot 
therefore be regarded as source material. In the second place, the 
cypress tree that formed such a striking picture of the landscape in 
175S may not have been so conspicuous sixty years earlier, and it is 
certain that it failed to be noted by any one of the three chroniclers of 
the Iberville expedition, though they faithfully recorded most of the 
unusual sights. Again, the explanation of the way in which this cypress 
tree caused the place to be called Baton Rouge is very far-fetched and 

♦II, 267. 







unworthy of credejice unles? additional proof is furthcomins-. So far as 
the writer knows, no additional proof has yet been adduced. Finally, 
du Pratz's indulg-ence in hjperbole in the last sentence quoted from his 
work, when he says that the tree was so hig-h that its summit was 
"lost to view," gives us still another count in our indictment of his 

On the other hand, when we examine the "pole version" we find that 
it can be traced to none other than Iberville himself. In his journal of 
his voyage up the IMississippi in lb"li9. there occurs the following- entry: 
"On the 17th [of March] we reached a small stream at the right of the 
river at five and a half leagues from our camp, where they gave us to 
understand there was a great quantity of fish, and where I had nets 
stretched and caught only two catfish . . . This rivers separates 
the hunting grounds of bayougoulas and the Houmas. Upon its banks 
are huts covered with palmetto leaves and a reddened IMaypole without 
branches, with several heads of fish and bears attached in sacrifice."! 

The details thus given by Iberville overthrow completely the state- 
ment of du Pratz that the word "rouge" was derived from the natural 
color of the cypress, and also make it impossible to reconcile the tree 
and pole versions by assuming that the pole may have been a cypress 
stripped of its bark and limbs by wind and liglitning. For Iberville 
does not say that the pole was red, but reddened (rougy).l He even 
calls it a Maypole (un may), and it is almost inconceivable that he 
would have applied such a designation to a tree. 

Fortunately, we have two other records of Iberville's expedition, so 
we are not compelled to rely wholly upon the impressions and observa- 
tions of the leader. The journal (or log) of the French frigate "Le 
Marin," a vessel of the fleet in which Iberville's expedition sailed for 
Louisiana, contains daily entries concerning the voyage up the Missis- 
sippi, and it appears that when this ship dropped anchor in the Gulf, its 
log was transferred to its long boat and. was kept by an officer during 
the journey up the river.!! The Red Pole seems to have impressed this 
officer, for he made the following entry for IVIarch 17: "At three o'clock 
in the afternoon we landed near a small stream which was like a lake, 
and the savages gave us to understand that it contained many fish. 
We found here several cabins covered with palmetto leaves, made by 
tlie Houmas, who come here to hunt and fish. They had even planted 
a pole (bois) thirty feet high, on w-hich were heads of fish."§ This state- 
ment substantiates that of Iberville. Nothing is here said of the color 
of the pole, but we are told it was a bois, which me-ans a stick of timber 
rather than a growing tree, and further that it had been set up by the 
Houmas, another blow to the cypress story. 

The third first-hand account of the Iberville expedition was written 
by the ship's carpenter, Joan Penicaut, who accompanied Il^ei-ville up 

*In another part of his work, I.ePage du Pratz again refers to the 
Baton Rouge cypress, giving its dimensions as "douze brasses de tour 
et une hauteur tout-a-fait extraordinaire." Op. Cit., II, 31. 

tMargry, Decouvertes et Etablissements des Francais dans I'Ouest et 
Jans le Sud de I'Amerique Septentrionale, IV, 173. 

tThose who are familiar with French will note the archaic spelling 
of the seventeenth century. 

i:The officer from the "Marin" who accompanied Iberville was an 
ensign, De Pauvole de la Villantray. 

§Margry, Op. Cit., IV, 263. 



the Mississippi and later settled in Natchez, where he lived until 1722. 
Returning to France in that year, he published an account of the early 
years of the history of the colony. After describing Bayou Manchac, 
Penicaut continues: Trom there we ascended live leagues farther, 
where we found very high banks, which in that country are called bluffs 
and in the savage tongue Istrouma, which means Baton Rouge, because 
there is at this place a pole painted red, which the savages had erected 
; to mark the dividing line of the lands of the two nations, to wit: that 

of the Bayougoulas, whence we had come, from another thirty leagues 
I above Baton Rouge called the Oumas [Hounias].*, 

' Penicaut's narrative should remove all doubt as to the original "baton 

I rouge's" being a painted pole set up by the Indians. The "pole \'ersion" 

; is fully conhrmed by three contemporary witnesses. How, then, it may 

I be asked, did the "tree version" ever originate? Of this we have no 

i certain knowledge, but it is reasonable to suppose that it is only one of 

' • the many aetiological legends in which local history abounds. One of 

i the most powerful factors in the development of traditional history is 

I the desire to explain the origin of names, usages, institutions and land- 

[ marks, A plausible guess by some individual with an active imagina- 

! tion is repeated and embellished by others until it comes to be accepted 

J ' as a fact, and the tradition thus started becomes stronger with its in- 

; creasing age. This practice some historians call aetiology, borrowing 

i the term from biology. 

i About twenty years after the explorations of Iberville, Diron d'Arta- 

i ^ guette, inspector-general of the troops of Louisiana, received a grant of 

I land along the Mississippi, which included the site of the red pole of 

I the Houmas, and which was designated as the concession of the Baton 

I "^ Rouge. It has only come to light within recent mionths, by the publica- 

1 tion of d'Artaguette's journal, that he sought to call his concession 

j Dironibourg.l! but the original designation of Baton Rouge seems to 

[ have pleased the settlers better and they retained it. These early in- 

1 habitants, however, knew little or nothing of the explanation of the 

i name of their settlement given Iberville and his companions, for the 

I documents relating to the voyage of 1699 then lay in the archives of 

[ the government at Paris. It was only natural, then, that they should 

I begin to speculate as to why the place should be called Baton Rouge, 

i - The only visible object that coul,d possibly suggest the name was a 

• .- conspicuous cypress tree. It was tall and straight like a baton and its 

j, wood was red. The idea that the place might have been named after the 

; cypress tree gradually grew into a belief that it was so named. The 

tradition thus started was accepted at its face value by I^Page du 
Pratz and iniblished by him as an historical fact in his "Histoire de la 
\ , Louisiane," in 173S. A whole century was to elapse before the "pole 

j version," as given by Iberville and Penicaut. appeared in print, and 

i in the meantime the cypress tree tradition gained such a firm hold 

i with the local population that even today criticism of it sometimes 

I arouses resentment. 

*lbid. V, 394-5. 

lIThe name thus appears in the printed journal, but it seems prob- 
able that this is a misprint for Dironbourg. If such is the case, it 
seems that d'Artaguette intended to name the settlement in honor of 
himself. Mereness, "Travels in the American Colonies," 43. 





After establishing the authenticity of the "pole version" we are con- 
front€d with another difficulty, if we seek to determine the exact loca- 
tion of the pole. The journal of Iberville and the ship's log- both state 
th:it the pole was on the bank of a small stream on the right of the 
Mississippi as the party ascended. Fortier identihes this as Bayou 
Manchac.^ Penicaut, however, says that the pole was hve leagues above 
the Alanchac, where there were very high banks. This would indicate 
the site of the present city or its immediate environs as the place where 
the pole stood. A careful study of the original narratives shows that 
there is no contradiction whatever in them with regard to this point. 
In identifying the small stream on whose bank the pole stood as Eayou 
Manchac, Fortier is in error. Had he read Iberville's journal more care- 
fully, and had he been more familiar with local topography, he would 
have noted that Iberville mentions passing Manehac on March 16, and 
then says that on the 17th he reached "a small stream to the right of 
the river, five and a half leagues from our camp." The ship's log 
likewise says that they passed a branch of the river on the 16th, and 
the following afternoon landed near "a little stream which is like a lake." 
This obviously was not the Manchac. What stream, then, could it have 
been? There is only one answer: it was the stream later designated 
as Garrison Bayou, which in recent years, as a result of the building 
of a dyke iind a spillway, has become in its lower part an ariificial lake, 
bordering the campus of Louisiana State University. Indeed, you will 
note that the ship's log notes the resemblance of the stream to a lake in 
1699. On the date when this was noted (March 17) the river would 
normally be approaching the flood stage and therefore backing up into 
this small tributary and causing it to leave its banks and spread over 
the adjoining grounds until it resembled a lake. The explorers' narra- 
tives, therefore, instead of being contradictory with regard to the loca- 
tion of the pole, are really in full accord. 

One other matter of interest in connection with the naming of 
Baton Rouge needs to be considered. Penicaut says that the place was 
called "in the savage tongue Istrouma which means Baton Rouge." 
It seems that in attempting to give the Choctaw equivalent of red 
pole he made a slight error. Mr, Henry S, Halbert, who lived among 
the Choctaws for twenty years and made a close study of their lan- 
guage, informed the writer some years ago that the Choctaw term for 
red pole is not' istrouma but iti ouma. It is possible that istrouma ap- 
pears in the printed text of the narrative through a slip of the pen or a 
printer's error. The original document is still in existence in the 
Bibliotheque Xationale in Paris, and an examination of it might en- 
lighten us as to whether Penicaut wrote the real Choctaw iti ouma or 
the more poetic word istrouma. For the sake of euphony, let us be 
thankful for the error, whether committed by the author of the nar- 
rative, or by some copying clerk or printer. Istrouma has served in 
these latter days as an excellent name for hotels and ferry boats, and 
let us hope that no one shall insist that the more accurate term be sub- 

For about twenty years the name Baton Rouge merely indicated a 
geographical ]>oint on the Mississippi river. The exact date at which 
Its settlement began is at present unknown. The earliest record that the 
■writer has been able to find is in the Journal of Father Charlevoix, who 
states that he went to Baton Rouge to say mass on New Year's day, in 
the year 1722.t 

♦History of Louisiana. I, 38-9, 

tJournal d'un Voyage fait par Ordre du Roi dans I'Amerique Sep- 
tentrionale. Ill, 36 (Paris, 1744). 








The results of the foregjoing study may now be briefly summarized: 
(1) The name Baton Rouge was not derived from a cypress tree, as has 
been so frequently stated, but from a painted pole set up by the Houma 
Indians, either as a boundary mark or for sacrificial purposes. (2) This 
pole was tound by Iberville and his companions on March 17, -l^'Jd, 
standing among a group of Indian huts that evidently served as a hunt- 
ing lodge. (3) This lodge was somewhere in the vicinity of what is now 
University Lake, and was called by the Indians Iti Cmma, a term which 
in some way was corrupted into Istrouma and which is Choctaw for 
Red Pole, or Baton Rouge. 

One question still remains unsolved: why did the natives erect such 
a pole? Again, as already indicated, we have contradictory explan'ations. 
Penicaut says that the pole marked the boundary between the hunting 
grounds of the Houmas and the Bayougoulas. Iberville says that the 
river (now University Lake) marked the boundary, and that the pole 
was erected for religious ceremonies.' Owing to the difficulty which 
the explorers encountered in understanding the natives and in making 
themselves understood by them, it is not surprising that these explana- 
tions are at variance. But this is a trivial matter; we have suilicient 
first-hand evidence to know just how Baton Rouge got its name, and 
with that we should be satisfied. 

[Note by the editor: In a letter of January 2-1, 1917, Colonel James 
M. Morgan (author of "Recollections of a Rebel Reefer"), formerly a 
Baton Rouge boy, writes as follows: "When I was a little boy the old 
people used to tell us that the way Baton Rouge got its name was be- 
cause it was the .scene of a. treaty meeting 'between the French and 
Choctaw Indians, who, when making peace, instead of burying the 
tomahawk, as was the custom of other tribes, buried a red stick — the 
red symbolizing blood — and they used to point out the place where the 
red stick was supposed to have been buried, viz., the bluff at the con- 
fluence of the bayou and the river, just a short di.-tance north of the 
old barracks where [the] university is now located."] 


(Read by President McGrath at the meeting of April 7, 1916.) 
The subject assigned me today, "Salvation of the Parish Records in 
1S62," of itself would reciuire a few l^rief sentences; but for a thorough 
understanding by those unacquainted with local conditions during the 
period under discussion it becomes necessary to introduce collateral 
events, and I will therefore call attention to the fact that up to the ap- 
pearance of Farragut's fleet in front of the city, martial law had never 
been declared, civil law alone prevailing, ^\■ith full confidence in the 
garrison? of the forts below New Orleans being fully equal to the task 
of repelling such in\-aders as might have the courage to attack them, 
no troops were statifmed hei-e, and the community, composed of old 
men, women and children, dwelt in peace and fancied security. Parish 
officials continued discharging the duties of their respective othces as in 
the days of profc)und peace, without thought that records, containing 
titles to e\ery home and farm in the parish were in jeopardy, and it 
was only when brought to a full realization of the danger of destruction 
of the court house by solid shot and shells bursting over the town that 
Mr. William Hubbs, then Recorder of Deeds and Mortgages, without 
authority, t(»ok it ni)on himself to hastily remove these valuable docu- 
ments from their legal domicile. 







During the few days intervening between the appearance of the 
war vessels and the arrival of troops under Butler, to occupy the city, 
Mr. llubbs secured a number of dry-goods cases, in which he stored the 
original documents — Spanish, French, parish judges and current records. 
Placing them in cane wagons loaned by patriotic planters, he headed 
the procession and started up the Bayou Sara road, seeking a place 
for the safe deposit of his precious freight. Arriving at the plantation of 
Captain Sales, near Port Hudson, the records were hidden as well as 
circumstances permitted, while :Mr. Hubbs* kept watch and ward over 
his priceless archives. 

After the siege of Port Hudson, as there no longer remained danger 
of Baton Rouge's being attacked by the Confederates, the Federals un- 
dertook to re-establish civil government, under military supervision. 
But to do so fully and completely, it became necessary to secure the 
books and documents of the Recorder's officei to accomplish which cav- 
alry escorting a number of army Vv-agons was sent out to arrest Mr. 
Hubbs and secure his books and papers, the whereabouts of which had 
been revealed by some traitor aware of the facts connected therewith. 
Arriving there, the commander of the Federals offered Mr. Hubbs ap- 
pointment to office under the new regime, conditioned upon that gentle- 
man's willingness to subscribe to an oath of allegiance to the United 
States. But he declined the offer and was promptly expelled beyond the 
lines of the Federal army. 

Fortunately, a thoroughly competent and honest Union supporter 
was found and appointed, who continued in otflce until an election was 
held under the Andrew Johnson reconstruction plan. 

All the books were returned to the court house in good condition, but 
the original documents were thrown ->ell-mell into cases by the soldiers 
who captured them, a condition which caused great confusion for some 
considerable time and until the Police Jury made an appropriation to 
have them arranged in due and becoming order. It took months to ar- 
range and index these documents, but the work was finally accomplished, 
and today a visitor to the office will find them intact from the Spanish 
period to date, thanks to the forethought and patriotism of William 
Hubbs, who lived to once again become the legal custodian of the papers 
he had so carefully guarded during a period of wanton destruction of 
property. Loved and honored, "he lit'ed far beyond the allotted age of 
man, to pass into life beyond ihe grave, mourned by every true and 
loyal man and woman of the city and parish. 


(Read by ^Miss Sarah T. Stirling, Librarian, L"^. D. C. Library, at the 
meeting of June 15, and repeated by request at that of September 2S, 

"The departed, the departed, they visit us in. dreams." 

Ninety-five years! In all our lives we have known a few people who 
counted that number of years, yet we have to touch our Planchette softly 
and implore the spirits of the vast past to come at our pleading. They 
come but mistily, from out the years — touch softly, the dark is riven 
by the lightning flash of the sword that defended the most beautiful 
and romantic of queens, Marie Antoinette, an himdred years ago. 

And again, from out the dark that now broods over the sea, the 
shining form of Liberty guides two ships filled with soldiers. On the 








prow of one stands a group of men who will write history with their 
swords. . Now they face what? The dark sea, tlie rough ships. 
Whither? They only know that Washington needs them, and they come. 
Conrad is buried by the side of Washington at Mount Vernon; de Ka!b 
is with us; he never saw "das Vaterland" again. 

Do we know the four gallant young chevaliers who stood together 
on that stormy sea? Aye! their children's children sit and listen to 
this story — the Comte Arm^nd Allair de Duplantier, the Comte Le Mo- 
nier, Monsieur le Docteur Felix Reville Brunot (the foster brother of 
La Fayette), and the Marquis de LaFayette. 

Touch softly, Planchette, our heart strings are tense. Do you not 
hear the clashing of swords? Washington and LaFayette and Liberty. 
It is written by these men "whose glory was redressing human wrongs." 
Planchette writes through a mist of tears, they parted by the sad sea 
waves. Monsieur le General le Marquis de LaFayette going back to his 
duties in La Belle France, which two, on the shore, never saw again, 
except through the eyes of their children. These two turned their faces 
southward, to the new France. 

Dr. Felix Brunot visited the old world many times in quest of his 
life-long love — "redressing human wrongs." 

The witchery of Planchette scatters the incense of rose and myrtle 
and magnolia blossom — even on Magnolia Mound Plantation, just below 
Baton Rouge. The low sickle of the silver moon reflects on the half- 
circle blades of black slave cane-cutters. 

Ah! down the road ride the Comte de Duplantier (the one-time aide- 
de-camp of LaFayette), and the Comte Le Monier. his life-long friend 
and neighbor. Time has swept the powder off the pompadours and 
queues and added a whiteness of its own. 

The thoroughbreds prance and curvet, the slaves stretch their 
brawny shoulders and sing a low, sweet rhythm, as they fall into line 
home — "Marsters is a' talkin' by de gate." Oh, Planchette! catch the 
echo and bring back the words of that purest of Parisian French from 
•the long ago. 

"Come to my house, my friend, and let us settle that dispute by 
reading again 'Le Courier et Public Tous les Jours' of August 17 and 
'Estrande de la Gazette de New York,' 14 September." 

"I do not think, monsieur, the general will arrive to visit us until 
•spring; the nation is doing him all honor, as it should do. They have 
adopted him *as the guest of the nation. But, old friend, we have the 
laugh on them. Felix Brunot. far up on his river island home, and 
you and I, he comes to see. Come, friend! to my home, and we will 
drink with the nation, shout with the multitude, listen to the roaring 
cannon and joy bells ringing and follow him as best we may from New 
York, Georgetown, Philadelphia, Baltimore — ah, sir! if we might only 
be with him at Felix Brunot's — INlobile. New Orleans, over the rivers 
and mountains until he lands at our own hearthstones! Our sons shall 
kneel at his feet and kiss his hand. Our wives and daughters, the 
Marquis shall salute on both cheeks, and Madame LeMonier and Mad- 
ame Du Plantier shall wear diamonds and roses and their velvet gowns." 

Thus the old men exult and anticipate the long winter through. 

Sweet the censer swings in our nostrils and the purple china flower 
is wafted over the golden land and mighty river. The mocking-bird 
trills "He is coming," and it is writ, "He is come," by all the tiny green 
swords in tho long cane rows. 








The phantoms of bygone places melt into the news — the ghosts of 
liie white sails of the sloops of Duplantier and LeMonier and a thousand 
nii>re dot the river at Point du Duncan — now Conrad's Point — the 
"Andrew Jackson" whistles up the river and lands. It is met by the 
civic body of Baton Rouge, twenty-four guns are fired, the band plays, 
the people shout, silk handkerchiefs are wet as the mist on the river, 
old eyes bright as the sun shining then. 

Three of the friends have met again — Lafayette! Lafayette! this 
beautiful procession comes up to the river to the old landing place at 
the foot of Laurel street, and there the handsome young mayor, from 
Dax (afterwards vice-consul to Frances ; Leon Bonnecaze, clad in his 
gold-embroidered crimson velvet cloak (so Mrs. Duncan, his daughter, 
then two months old, told me), bowed until the powder of his fair fell 
on his diamond shoe buckles, and read a welcome to Baton Rouge. 

A magnificent body of men in full regalia then advanced, and with 
the handclasp of the Masonic brotherhood bade him welcome. 

High over their heads floated white satin banners, lettered in gold — 
L'Etoile Flamboyant and the Lodge of the Guest. L'Etoile Flamboyant 
banner was lowered, and ever afterward the first brotherhood of Ma- 
sons in Baton Rouge was known as the Lodge of the Guest. 

The magnificence of banners, velvet and diamonds shifts a little, 
and gives place to the shades of two happy old niggers, old Caroline and 
Loyola Brehilde. 

"Dem mens toted Marse LaFayette in de arms up over de heads 
plum from dat steamboat to ^^larse Bonnecaze's on de corner of Con- 
vention and dat same street what dey change from de River Road, an' 
some say First street, to LaFayette street from dat day. Lord! Lord! 
man, dat vyas a day! All dem Masonic gentums was dere wid dey 
liitle ap'uns on. Marse de Belloise had made de speech to de river — 
Miss Katie, she's got Marse William Hubbses ap'un till yet — an' r^larse 
Bonnecaze and Marse Isadore Larguier an' Marse Joseph Larguier an' 
Marse Judge Favrot an' Marse Bouvier Favrot an' Marse Shepperd 
an' a plenty mo' I disremember — an' dey give denn all refreshments a, 
settin' at de rosewood table in de big dinin' room — den Marse LaFay- 
ette went on de gallery an' made de beautifullest speech ever was — you 
could hear dem people shout plum to de woods." 

"Don't I know^ dat, nigger? Didn't- 1 tote a chair 'roun' behine Marse 
l^aFayette an' set it right behine him so he could set down any minute 
he had a min' to? It was Marse Shepperd's chair what was borrowed 
fur tie 'casion. Don't I know dat, nigger?" 

Keep time to the march. Planchette, as a gilded coach and four 
white horses swing into view. The Marquis rides down to [what was 
later] Zachary Taylor's house at the barracks. Rub-a-dub goes young 
>!atta's drum that day, and was echoed in the heart of madame and 
dt-moiselle and many a knight and gentleman who proudly walked behind 
in the train of the marquis. 

"The mar(iuis was very much surprised and pleased that the Place 
d'Armes at the 'barracks had disappeared for the nonce and was filled 
with fiowers and fair ladies, who greeted him with refreshments and 


Planchette is good to us, with the Departed. We are at the recep- 
tion at Madame Mears' — take notice — at the corner of LaFayette and 
Convention streets. INIonsieur and Madame French, from just across 
the way, are there; Mr. and Mrs. Charles Gayarre, Monsieur Alexandre 
Oousso, blazing with orders from Louis XV; Louis :Marie Michel Hypolite 
LaXoue (the Comte de Vere) : Monsieur and Madame Dubroca; Madame 


and Dr. Lauzin, with the Order of Merit from Louis Philippe on his 
breast; Prince Aehille Murat; Don Jose Vidal; Monsieur and Madame 
Bird; Monsieur and IMadame Barsan; Judge Tessier; Judge Busimell; 
Charles Conrad; Charles Grandpre; Major Penniston; the Chinns; 
Claibornes; Lobdells and "Wilkinsons from across the river; John 
Turnbull of Arlington and Lewis Stirling from the West Feliciana 
hills — the friend of Duplantier. 

Hark to the tinkle of glasses I Even to the ghosts of memories 
drunk — for these, in their hearts, never gave up France — but with all 
the iiot tide of their aristocratic blood "were French residents of Lou- 
isiana and never Louisianians." 

Out of the mist comes the spangle of southern stars — up, up, over 
the old market place where Madame Legendre's dancing hall was, and 
now where the Confederate monument is — a shifting Planchette shows 
retreating and advancing figures, the flash of eyes — like stars dropt 
down — the wave of curl and scarf, the touch of hand. A stately minuet 
with the Marquis de La Fayette at its head, treading a measure with 
Mademoiselle Augustine Duplantier, aged six. 

The pictures come and go. In the golden days, the three friends 
are not separated an hour. They feast, dance and recall old memories. 
LaFayette tells them of fair France, the tumbril has ceased to roll, the 
river of blood to tlow, the grand coronation of Napoleon and Josephine 
come and gone, and Paris is en fete again. 

Fergus, Armand, Guy and Didier Duplantier, and young Dubroca 
are returning with the Marquis to join George Washington LaFayette 
at the Polytechnic School. 

Planchette writes slowiy — the happy days are past, and the old 
men sit at the gate and read letters from over the sea — the years have 
crept, the walls have fallen, the chimneys watch, the old oak trees sigh 
a requiem, the night winds and ghosts of past memories whisper to 
the caldrons of the rusty sugar kettles, of the past glories and history 
of Magnolia Mound Plantation. 


Comte Armand Allair de Duplantier came to the province of Louis- 
iana with a commission from the government for a large tract of land, 
as a reward for his services in the Revolution (also Le Monier). A 
large tract about two miles below Baton Rouge, now known as "the 
W^illiams Place," "Hall's Bottom" and "the Magnolia Mound Planta- 
tion," I feel sure, were all belonging to this tract and known as the 
Magnolia Mound Plantation. On the latter — as we know it now — was 
the house built for Prince Murat and occupied by him for three years, 
noted for its beautiful arched and frescoed music room. I cannot find 
out exactly where the Duplantier residence was, but most certainly on 
the river. The land extended around behind the lake. 

Monsieur Duplantier married first Mademoiselle Constance Rouchon; 
second, the widow of A\'illiam Joyce of Pointe Coupee. I have never 
been able to find out the least thing about the LeMonier family. 

Dr. Felix Reville Brunot, the foster brother of Lafayette, and gi~eat- 
grandfather of the Ducheins and Brunots of Baton Rouge, made hi.s 
home on an island some miles below Pittsl^urg. and not far from the 
mouth of the (Jhio. He and his wife lived most perfect lives. "Redress- 
ing human wrongs." Plis son James' came to Baton Rouge and is the 
father and grandlather of the present family, who are so fortunate as 
to have his biography. 







Monsieur Alexandre Cousso is the gian(lf;\ther of the Re: naud fam- 
ily, an. I is buried in the old St. Louis cemetery in New Orleans, with 
the jeweled order of honor from Louis XV on his breast, so his g-'-and- 
dau^hter. Mrs. Annie Dubroca, told me. 

Louis Alarie Michel Hypolite LaNoue, the Comte de Vere, is the 
grandfather of all the Mattas and the Andrew Jacksons and the Lar- 
guiers. Told me by :Miss :M. Larguier. 

Judge Charles Tessier is the grandfather of Mr. C C. Bird. 

Major Penniston became the son-in-law of M. Duplanner, a.*--: did 
M. Fa V rot. 

"Young Matta" was twenty-five years old, in 1S25. Many have 
risen to call him blessed. He was the son-in-lavr of the Comte de Vere. 

Mrs. Jadeau, the daughter of Mr. Shepperd, told me the incident of 
the "chairs" and said it caused quite a laugh. Old Loyola was so afraid 
La Fayette could not sit don-n when "he'd min' to" that he continually 
shoved the chair up against his legs. The Jadeaus kept the, chair a 
long time. 

Loyola Brehilde lived to be a hundred years old. 

Caroline was "a young gal" at Mrs. ]^leers' (I think). 

Mrs. Dubroca says some of the Vidals and Villars are here still. 


(Read by Joseph A. Loret. Esq., at the meeting of July SL If^lG ) 

That part of Louisiana in which the parish of East Baton Rouge is 
now situated was under Spanish dominion from 1779 until ISIO. 

The conveyance office of the parish of East Baton Rouge, therefore, 
ccmtains a large number of Spanish records and it is with these and 
their contents that I shall chiefly concern myself. They contain a^l the 
transfers of immovable property, all of the mortgages and all of the 
judicial proceedings of the Districts of Baton Rouge and Manchac. Ije- 
ginning with January 1, 17G5, and continuing until the Americans took 
pos.session. The original documenrs, not copies, are recorded in the 
books. Most of these documents are in Spanish, but among them mny 
be found many in French and English. 

Before speaking of their contents, I wish to call your attention to 
the present condition of the books that contain these records. The 
daTn{>nes's and the moths are constantly at work upon them, and unless 
something is done to preserve them we will soon lose a collection of 
documents that are of great importance to the.families of this section. 

At the time of the beginning of these records all of Louisiana was 
under the dominion of Spain and the authority of the governor of 
Louisiana extended over what is now the parish of East Baton Rouge. 
The northern part of the territory of this parish. Including the city of 
Baton Rouge, was in the District of Baton Rouge, which was under the 
rule of a commandant, at that time Don Jose Vasquez Vahamonde. 
The .southern part was in the District of !\[anchac, whose commandant 
was Don Francisco Rivas. The former commandant's headquarters were 
at the fort of Baton Rouge, whose site is supposed to have been some- 
where in what are now the grounds of the Louisiana State University. 
The latter's headquarters were at the fort of Manchac. 

The Spanish commandant was the civil and military head of this 
district, and besides possessed the ecclesiastical power of celebrating 
marri;iges. He acted as governor, judge and general over his district. 

During Don Jose Vasquez's regime we fmd that some robberies had 
been committed in his district and that he undertook an investigation 
of them, the proces verbal of which shows that he examined a number 
of witnesses, but does not show that he ever discovered the criminal. 


This is the only criminal proceeding- that I have been able to find 
among these records, which shows that in spite of the mixed nature 
of the population, comi>osed of Spaniards, Frenchmen, Englishmen 
and Americans, the districts now composing this parish must have 
been very law-abiding. And here let me remark that from the trans- 
actions between them, the English and Americans seem to have been 
On the best terms with the Spaniards. 

In 1797 we tind that Don Jose A'asquez Vahamonde ^vas succeeded 
as commandant of the fort and district of Baton Rouge by Don Jacobo 
Duvreuil, who from his name was evidently a Frenchman or a man of 
French descent. From the records of that year we find that the dis- 
tricts of Baton Rouge and Manchac were no longer under the governor 
of Louisiana but that they had been made a part of the Plaza of 
Natchez, of which Don Carlos de Grandpre was then governor. 

From the records of ISOO we find that the Alta Plaza of Baton 
Rouge had been organized with Baton Rouge as its capital, and Don 
Carlos de Grandpre as its go\'ernor. He remained governor until his 
death at the hands of the revolutionists who established the republic of 
West Florida.* 

One thing that may be of interest to us in these days, in which we 
comT)lain so much of the high cost of living, is the fact that during the 
Spanish regime the average price of full-grown cattle was from $6 to 5-8 
a head. 

Another fact of interest disclosed by these records is the treatment 
accorded by the Spaniards in Louisiana to the Acadians who had been 
expelled from their homes by the British. We find that the Spanish 
authorities gave a homestead to any Acadian that desired one, and that 
quite a number of them settled in the district of Baton Rouge. 

In conclusion, I wish to call your attention to the fact that these 
records will be of great assistance to anyone who cares to look uo the 
records of families that resided here during the Spanish regime. Re- 
ports were recorded in these books from time to time by the comman- 
dants of the marriages they had performed; and all of the wills that 
were probated are recorded in them. 


(Read by Reverend Father Arthur Drossaerts, Rector St. Joseph's, at 
the meeting of October 12, 1916.) 

Long and varied is the historv' of St. Joseph's Catholic Church and 
parish in Baton Rouge. The past was at times a march of triumph 
accompanied by the hosannas and songs of glee of the jubilant pastor 
and people; yet more often a "via dolorosa" strewn with thorns, he- 
sprinkled with the tears of the loyal and faithful. In writing up tlie 
history of St. Joseph's one is tempted to use the hackneyed phrase that 
its beginnings are lost "in the dim past." 

As far back as 1719 the clergy of "la Punta Cortada" (Pointe 
Coupee) visited more or less regularly- the few scattered Catholic fam- 
ilies that dwelt on and around the bluffs of the Mississippi river in what 
are now p]ast and "West Baton Rouge parishes. Tt is in the ypar 179 6 
that our records make the first mention of a regular pastor and an or- 
ganized congregation. By 1820 the congregation already must have 
assumed respectable proportions, since on the feast of St. Patrick, 
1S20, it was incorporated by an act of the legislature. 

•Don Carlos de Grandpre died in Cuba in 1^09. It was his son, 
Louis, who was killed. September 2Z. ISIO. Don Carlos De Hault d^* 
Lassus succeeded Don Carlos de Grandpre in 180S. — Editor. 


The earlier records of baptisms, marriages and funerals are all 
written in the Spanish languacre and in a handwriting- clear, careful and 
truly admirable. Tlie first records are signed by the Reverend Carlos 
Hurke (a combination of Iberian and Hibernian), "cura de Baton 
flouge. anno 1796." Till 1S22 all entries are made in the sonorous 
language of Spain. 

With the advent of a clergy whose names evidently betray th-^ir 
P^rench extraction comes in 1S22 the fluent language of "la belle France," 
uhi.-h Avas finally succeeded by the English tongue only after the Civil 
War had been fought and lost and revolutionized our ways and fhoughts 
in Louisiana. 

The present church is the third erected by the Catholic congregation 
in E-Jaton Rouge. A small frame church had been here previous to ISIO. 
We know very little of this church, except the fact that it was erected 
on two lots of ground at the corner of Church and Main streets, donated 
by Antonio Grass, a well-to-do, public-spirited son of Spain. It stood 
till the year 1830, when, entirely too small for the growing congregation, 
it was demolished and replaced by a larger building, erected by Father 
A. Blanc in 1830, and blessed by Bishop de Neckere amidst great re- 
joicing and a concourse of people of all tongues, creeds and nation- 

A few amongst us still remember this second church and describe 
it as attractiv^e and devotional. Its lines ran, not like those of the 
present church, north and south, but east and west, the steeple fitted 
with a town clock for the convenience of the people, facing the river. 

Alas for the inconstancy of things here below! This same proud 
steeple was demolished in 1853 and whatever was left of Father Blanc's 
church was sold at auction to th" highest bidder. Lumber and junk 
brought the magnificent sum of $275 and the successful bidder was Mr. 
F. Tunnard. 

In December, 1849, the Jesuit Fathers, recognizing the imiiortance 
of Baton Rouge, decided to build a boys' college at the capital, and 
took charge of the parish. The college stood at the intersection of what 
are now St. Hypolite and North streets. Owing to various causes, 
chief amongst which were the ravages of frequent yellow fever epidem- 
ics, and the appalling distress causfed by the Civil War, this collec^e 
never was the success that had been anticipated for it and its failure 
finally induced the Jesuit Fathers to leave Baton Rouge and give bacK 
the parish to the diocesan clergy. 

Several of the Jesuit community died in Baton Rouge of yellow 
fever.- as martyrs of duty, having contracted the disease while day and 
night ministering to our stricken people. They were buried in our 
Catholic cemetery. Some eight years ago their remains were taken up 
and sent to Springhill. Alabama, where they now rest in the beautiful 
cemetery of the Jesuit Order. 

The Jesuits left an indelible memorial of their labors and zeal in 
Raton Rouge in the large, solid, Gothic St. Joseph's church, the pri'Ie 
of our congregation. Father Cambiazo, the same who built t'le 
nifioent moresque Jesuit Church on Baronne and Common streets. New 
Orleans, drew the plans for the Baton Rouge church. Owing to lack 
of sufficient funds these plans had to be modified somewhat, yet our 
r>resr-nt church is substantially Father Cambiazo's architectural <'hil<i. 
The building was begun and brought to a finish under the admini'^tra- 
tion of Rev. T. Lavay and Rev. D. Hubert, who wa.s one of the best 
known army chaplains of the Confederacy. It is said of Father T^ar- 
naudie that while the church was building :\Ir. Henry T,arguier jokingly 
offered him as a present for the church a keg of nails if he would carry 

.32 . 


it himself to the building. Taking Mr. Larguier at his word, the .rtver- 
end Jesuit bent down, took up the heavy keg and unceremoniously 
walked away witii it, lea\ing the hardware man in wonderment at the 
herculean strengcli of his friend in priestly soutane. 

The cornerstone of the new church was laid in 1833. The dinieri- 
sions were to be sixty one by one hundred feet. The board of trustees 
were: Peter McKittrick, Augustin Duplantier, Ambroise Theriot, An- 
toine Pujol, Wm. G. Pike and Josiah Kleinpeter. Soon $30C0 was col- 
lected and another $7000 borrowed, and the new church progressed. Yet 
poor St. Jose])h's! "What a chequered career awaited it! Upon what a 
sea of troubles was it launched! 

In 1S73 the church was in debt $6,S50 and the trustees had not the 
wherewithal to pay. On September S a staggering blow fell upon the 
congregation; the church was seized, sold at sheriff's sale and the 
pastor found himself without a house of worship and obli,:;'ed to hold 
divine services in a frame building belonging to the Sisters, and stand- 
ing at the corner of Florida and Fifth streets. 

I.Iowever, through the efforts of the trustees and the generosity of 
the pastor and people, little by little were all outstanding obligations 
•settled, one by one. In March, 18S5, the church was bought back and 
finally in May, 1SS9. the joyous announcement was made that the 
church, for the first time in its existence, was free of all debts. All 
honor to the men who worked incessantly for this happy result and 
freed the parish from a dreadful incubus that had well-nigh stifled 
and destroyed it. The names of these men may well h<^. kept in grateful 
memory. They were: Emile Droz, Leon Jastremski. J. E. EIoumi, 
Joseph Gebelin, John Gass, John O'Connor, M. J. Williams, Joseijh 
Brooks, Lambert Jadot, Tim Duggan. Fred W. Heroman. Sr., J. iV. 
Fourrier, John Schroeder, Jacob Kornmeyer, William IMcGuinness, Irence 
Pujol and Very Rev. C. de la Croix. 

From that time a new life seems to have been infused into the par- 
ish. Already in February. 1SS9, the huilding of a beautiful church s'eeplt' 
was proposed and a building committee appointed, composed of James P. 
Costello, John O'Connor, J. E. Blouin. Joseph Gebelin, Richard H. Burke, 
Andrew Jackson, Nicholas Wax and the pastor. Mr. Dicharry of S'c. 
James parish was engaged as architect to submit plans, on Xovembf^r itj, 
1890. J. C. Brown, a local contractor, executed the work imde^ the 
supervision of the architect, and the result was a steeple 117 1-2 feet 
high, the pride of our people and the admiration of all visitors to the 
Capital City. The cost of the steeple was $4,000. and cash payments 
were made. 

Upon the departure of the Jesuits, St. Joseph's congregation reverted 
once more to the diocesan clergy. Rev. F. X. Ceuppens, a young prie.Jt 
but recently ordained, was sent to Baton Rouge and remained a feu- 
weeks preparing, as it were, the way for the new pastor, Rev. de la 
Croix, who arrived on December 28, 1865, and was to remain for twenty- 
eight years at the head of the parish of St. Joseph's at Baton Bourse. 

Father Cyril de la Croix (who in Baton Rouge has not heard of him?) 
was born at Evreux. in PYance. on June 1. 1817. It is said that his family 
belonged to the old French nobility and that young De la Croix, before 
studying for the priesthood, had been a distinguished officer in the 
army of France. His outward appearance certainly was noble and pre- 
possessing; he was tall, with an open, pleasing face, and manners be- 
tokening the high-bred gentleman. Toward the evening of his life, his 
long, undulating silver- white hair added an air of venerable, patriarchal 
' dignity to the well-known features of Canon de la Croix. He could be 
stern and firm and fearless, yet his nature was gentie, generous and 
charitable to a fault. He breathed his last on Decembr>r 7, 1S93. at S:lo 


p, m., and was buried on December 9 in front of the altar of our Bl-.-ssed 
Lady. A beautiful marble slab marks the place where Father de Ja 
Croix's remains lie in the midst of the people he served so long and 
so well. 

Four of the pastors of St. Joseph's were elevated to the episcopal 
dignity. In 1835, Rev. Anthony Blanc was consecrated bishop of Xc\^' 
Orleans and later became archbishop of that venerable see. In lS.'»:i 
when a second diocese was created in Louisiana, the Rev. August .Alar- 
tin was called to be the first bishop of Natchitoches. The Rev. Cornelius 
Van de Yen is the present bishop of Alexandria, while Father Laval i-s, 
since 1910, auxiliary bishop of New Orleans. 

The records show that m 1842 the pastor, Rev. Brogard, received as 
salary the princely sum of $GO0 per annum. But (I am quoting literally) 
"vu la penurie des circoHstances et la rarete d'argent." the trustees dt, ■ 
cided to cut down this meagre salary to $500. Poor Father Brogard! 
He surely had his share, if not of Uncle Sam's silver dollars, at least oi: 
this world's tribulations. In 1843 the board of trustees received a letter 
from the French-speaking portion of the flock protesting ngain.«t the ' 
unheard-of innovation of Jlev. Brogard, "who dared to interrupt his 
most sacred functions on Sundays in order to give an address in Eng- 
lish, ^ language which but few of the people were able to understand." 

Whereupon quite a discu.ssion took place. It was shown that from 
time immemorial sermons had been in French and English on aiterna;<- 
Sundays — and now this pastor had ridden roughshod over all these 
customs and privileges and only with the greatest troi'ble had he been 
prevailed upon to give a French sermon once a month only. Their cup 
of anger was overflowing. In bitterest resentment do they remark: 
"Ceci n'est pas une reparation a I'insulte faite a la population fran- 
caise." And then follows the dire threat: "If he persists in his evil 
ways we will hold up his salary." 

Oh, irony of fate! Only a few months later, in March, 1S4J, the 
minutes of these gallophiles were being written in ihe incriminated 
language by their secretary, Mr. Philip Hickey, and it seems that poor . 
Father Brogard's triumph was to be complete all along the line. S'X 
months after his terrible indictment, one of the trustees, Mr. V. T 
Burke, evidently an Irishman with that innate reverence and love for 
the clergy so characteristic of his race, came to the rescue of hi.s pastor 
with a motion, unanimously adopted, if you please, and ordered seiit 
to the bishop of the diocese as follows: 

"Resolved, That we highly approve the ai>ility, industry and the 
devotion to duty of Rev. Brogard and the parochial :'urate. We also 
bear respectful testimony to the purity of life and manners of "our pastor 
and consider his presence and influence among us of the highest impor- 
tance to the interests of good morals and the Catholic religion. 

"Resolved, further, to repeal the action of the Board of Trustees taken j 

November, 1843, to restore the pastor's full salary and to ]>eg him to f 

give the people a sermon in French and English on alternate Sundavs." i 

And so ended to the satisfaction of all concerned, a real stem ir. j 

a teapot. And here, also, ends my little sketch of the oldest church in j 

Baton Rouge. { 

(Read by Miss Lois L. Simmons at the meeting of October 12, 1916.) I 

Fate evidently did not know that some day the name of Sarah Knox ' 

Taylor would be placed among the list of other favored ones, so kept no ! 

record of her earliest girlhood. Later her marriage to Jefferson Davis 
linked together two of the South's most loved names, those of Taylor 
and Davis. General Zachary Taylor, one of America's foremost generals 
and presidents, was her father. 


General Taylor was a resident of Baton Rouge from 1840 to 184S, his 
home being on [what is now] the L. S. U. campus, near the present 
home of Prof. R. L. Himes. Gen. Taylor was in Baton Rouge when he 
received the letter telling him of his election to the first office in our 

To Mrs. Taylor is given the credit for the organization of the first 
Episcopal church in Baton Rouge. Services were held in what is now 
called "B building." 

Although never intimately associated with Baton Rouge herself, as 

V ■ the favorite daughter of Gen. Taylor, as the daughter of the founder of 

the Episcopal church here, the sister of "Dick" Taylor and the wife of 

Jelf Davis, this sketch of the life of Sarah Knox Taylor Davis should 

-be of interest to every history lover of Baton Rouge, 

We first see Sarah Knox Taylor at Fort Crawford, where her father 
is stationed for military duties. At this time there was little amusement 
to be had at a "fort." However, there were three of the Taylor girls: 
Anne, Knox, and Betty, and their brother Richard, who later became 
known and loved by all Southerners as one of their lieutenant-generals. 
Together this quartette was a strong band — a band that was ever ready 
for fun, no matter what the cost. 

The fort offered few social advantages. The buildings were crude, 

or oftener tents, and few of the officers were married. Mrs. Taylor 

and the Taylor girls were usually the only women at the fort. There 

I ' was little chance to visit your neighbors and gossip about your friends. 

[ ' The only chance for such things lay in getting an officer interested 

■ ■ enough to join a fishing party. On one of these delightful occasions one 

'■ ^ of the officers was bet that he could not climb a small tree that was 

i . w over the water's edge. Refusing to take the dare, he labored faithfully 

I until he had succeeded, but that was not all, for fate did not intend 

l that he should smile upon the crowd and say "I told you so." The 

i^ Taylor girls were cutting down the tree. Soon there was one great big 

[ splash and then an indignant officer of the highest rank. 

; . As to the education of Mrs. Davis, we do not know what school and 

'; college she attended, but it was some eastern one.- Her vacations were 

i I spent in Kentucky with relatives; therefore, she knew little of the hard- 

! ships of the life lived by her mother on the frontier. She was sur- 

1 ° rounded by culture, refinement and comfort. Her visits to the fort were 

\, . ' purely of the adventurous type. She was not there long enough at a 

I ; . time to grow tired of the unbroken monotony of each day's life. On 

; some of her visits to the fort she learned to do exquisite Indian bead- 

i . work. The only personal relic that remains today of Mrs. Davis is a 

i , small beaded reticule which she gave to her best girlhood friend, Mary 

• Street. 

I No picture has been saved that could give a better description of the 

true Mrs. Davis — her ways, her manner, her personality — than the imag- 
inary one that we can easily see with our mind's eye, from such interest- 
ing descriptions as these: "Knox was extremely pretty, small, with 
black eyes, and had a great charm of manner, winning every one that 
knew her." Anne Taylor, a cousin, says this: "Knox was very hand- 
some, as graceful as a nymi)h and the best dancer in Kentucky." Posey 
■ Wilson, from his mother's recollection, wrote this: "She had an ex- 

quisitely beautiful figure but was not pretty as a woman. She was 
dark and small and very much like her father, particularly as to her 
' forehead, which, though indicating strength and courage, moral and 

/ physical, in a man, was not becoming to a woman. She also "had her 

father's splendid hazel eyes and lovely even teeth. From her mother 
she inherited the finest domestic traits and the highest type of amia- 


These wonderful traits were not to go unnoticed forever. In 1832 
there was a youngr officer at the fort. He was lonesome and hungry for 
the life that he had left to come to such an abandoned place. Do you 
blame him for asking-, "Who is the young lady?" when he saw Knox 
for the first time at the fort? No one blamed him then or later. 

His first call proved fatal. Perhaps to the young brother, Richard, 
credit can be given for the term "love at first sight." After tea, when 
the family had gathered around the fireside he asked Knox if she was not 
going to sing to them, as she usually did. She told him she would be 
glad to if he thought Mr. Davis would enjoy it as much as he did. Walk- 
ing across the room, she picked up her guitar and began to sing in 
her soft, sweet Southern yojce "Fairy Bells." From then on, Mr. Davis 
was her humble admirer. It was hard to recognize in the ever-devoted 
lover the stern military man that was known as Davis — our own loved 
Jeff Davis. ^ >^~^Cr''*'^Qf ' >''! 

General and Mrs. Taylor were very ' m"uch alafmed when they 
realized that there was a stronger relationship between Davis and their 
daughter than that of friendship. Personally they admired Mr. Davis 
very much, but they did not want their daughter to marry anyone 
that was a military man. The bitterness of life on the frontier had 
been theirs and they had hoped that their daughters would not have to 
suffer such hardships. 

Time wore on. Davis became fonder of Knox every day. He did 
not try to hide his love for her; instead, he confessed it, asking for the 
hand of the girl that he loved better than all else. This was more than 
Gen. Taylor could stand. He w'ould have died rather than gi\e his 
daughter to an officer. He flatly refused to consent, ordering Davis 
away from his home. Love was not to be so easily killed. Davis was 
madly in love with Knox; she with him. They met in the afternoons, 
when Knox could carry her little sister and brother for a walk, and 
also at the homes of their sympathetic friends. 

In 1833 Davis left Fort Cra^vford and joined the new dragoon regi- 
ment at Fort Gibson. He corresponded regularly with Miss Taylor. 
They decided to be married in the summer regardless of the family's 
opposition. Davis sent in his resignation, to take effect June 30, 1S35, 
but was granted leave of absence and went to St. Louis and completed 
the arrangements for the wedding. 

Knox again asked her father's permission to marry, but was re- 
fused, Gen. Taylor saying he would rather see his daughter dead than 
the wife of any militaiw man. Knox thought he should give a more 
sane answer to a question of such vital interest to her. As he would not, 
she decided to marry without his blessing. She prepared to go to her 
aunt's in Louisville, meet Mr. Davis there and be married. 

The wedding was as all weddings — beautiful. It was solemnized on 
June 17, 1S35. at Beechland, the home of John Gibson Taylor, a brother 
of Zachary. Every room was fitted with its wedding robe, made of 
beautiful fiowers. The day was perfect, and Beechland was indeed a 
proper setting for the occasion. Neither Miss Taylor's mother nor father 
was present. Gen. Taylor's two sisters and Dr. and Mrs. Wood were 
present, with the children of both families. 

The bride wore a traveling dress with hat to match. The groom 
wore the conventional suit of his day, consisting of long cutaway coat, 
brocaded waistcoat, breeches that were tight- fitting and held under the 
instep with straps. These, with a tall stove-pipe hat completed his 
costume." Sallie and Nicholas Taylor, cousins of the bride, were the 
attendants. The wedding was simple but impressive. It is said that 
after the ceremony everyone except Mr. Davis cried. This provoked 


the Taylor children very much, because they thought he did not love 
"Cousin Knox" as they did, or he would cry. 

Immediately after the ceremony Mr. and Mrs. Davis left for Natchez, 
going by steamboat. Here they visited a brother of Mr. Davis. After 
their stay in Natchez they went to visit Mrs. Luther E. Smith, a sister 
of Mr. Davis, who lived in West Feliciana parish, near Bayou Sara. 
Mrs. Smith had a lovely home, of the true colonial type. Because of 
the dozens of locust trees surrounding the house, the place was called 
Locust Grove, and was known as one of the show places of that part of 

Malarial fever was very prevalent in Mississippi, but the Davises had 
hoped to evade the germ in Louisiana. Fate was against them, though, 
as they had stayed too long in the fevered district. Just a few days 
after they reached Mrs. Smith's both were taken ill with the malady. 

From the very first the fever seemed to have its worst form, becom- 
ing more like yellow fever than malaria. Mrs. Davis was dangerously 
ill from the very first. All that human hands could do for her was of 
no avail; she grew weaker and weaker each day. At last, oa September 
5, when '"the shadows were gathering," she sang in her sweet voice the 
song that her little brother loved more than all others — the one that she 
had first sung for Mr. Davis — "Fairy Bells." The song seemed to have 
a hypnotic effect upon her; she lay back upon her pillow and fell asleep 
—"a sleep that knows no waking." 

We are told by some authorities that Mrs. Davis died in her hus- 
band's arms. But Miss Nan Davis Smith, a great-niece of Mr. Davis, 
and the amanuensis of his "Memoirs," says that this is not true. Mr. 
Davis was desperately ill at the same time and was being watched over 
most carefully, lest, he, too, die. He did not know of his loss for several 
days. Mrs. Davis was buried in the family cemetery at Locust Grove. 
A life that a few days before had been filled with joy and happiness had 
forever closed its book, leaving many pages unfilled. The little grave 
is shaded by moss-draped trees; the gray headstone lies buried in the 
ferns that are the especial care of "Miss Nan," as her friends love to 
call her. 

The old house, the scene of the golden romance of Jeff Davis's youth, 
has passed into other hands. The Taylor family has drifted away and 
no one cares for the house with its poetic ghosts of memory. The 
room that echoed the marriage vows years ago, today is the bedroom of 
a 'farmer boy; the doorsteps that were crossed by the daughter of one 
future president and the wife of another, have fallen down. 

Also, the old Locust Grove house has been destroyed by fire. Noth- 
ing is left save the locust trees; they alone have been faithful and 
today they shower upon her grave blossoms as pure and as sweet as her 
own life. 


(A paper read by Milledge L. Bonham. Jr., at the meeting of 
October 12, 1916.) 

By an act approved January 16. 1817, the General Assembly of 
Louisiana provided that on the first Monday of April, 1817, and of 
every succeeding year, an election should be held to choose five select- 
men for the town of Baton liouge. The qualified voters for this election 
were "all free white male i5ersons, above the age of twenty-one years 
who [were] freeholders, householders or landholders within the follow- 
ing limits: from the mouth of the Bayou at the upper part of town 
... called Garcie's Bayou (the "University Lake" of today) and 

extending on the main branch of said bayou to the distaiiCe of forty 
arpents from the Mississippi; and below, commencing at the Mississippi 
on the lower line of the tract claimed by Madame Marion and following 
the direction of said line to the distance of forty arpents from the 
Mississippi." This of course assumes that the river is the western 
boundary and implies that a north and south line joining the other two 
would form the eastern boundary. 

In passing, the name Garcie's Bayou calls for a word. One of our 
streets of today is called Gracie Street, presumably after the Bayou. 
This would seem a metathesis of the A and R, for in both the English 
and the French versions of the statute, the spelling is G-A-R-C-I-E. 
Perhaps this is a French softening of the Spanish Garcia. Maps of 
about 1832 have the bayou labeled "Bayou Grassy," which seems clearly 
a corruption of Garcie. Some records call it "Garrison Bayou." 

To return to the city limits. City Engineer John J. Mundinger in- 
forms me that the eastern boundary, joining the two forty-arpent lines, 
would have run just about where the present eastern limit is — namely, 
just beyond the Magnolia and the Government cemeteries, passing 
through Allen, Duggan and Fryoux streets. The southern boundary was 
probably along the line of what is now South Boulevard. 

The voters holding the necessary property within these limits were 
restricted in their choice of candidates to persons who were freeholders, 
owning a landed estate to the value of $500 within the parish, and who 
were inhabitants of this parish. The election was by ballot at the 
courthouse, the polls being open from 10 a. m. until 5 p, m. The parish 
judge, the sheriff and the clerk, or any two of them, were the judges 
of the election. The parish judge was required to post, ten days before 
the election, notices thereof, in three conspicuous places in the city. In 
case of a tie vote, the judges of the election would choose between the 
candidates. A penalty of $50 was imposed on a selectman neglecting to 
serve after being elected, though resignation was permitted. 

The board of selectmen, so chosen, was empowered to "pass laws, 
ordinances and regulations" (in writing) as the situation of the market, 
the streets and the police generally might require; to impose fines not 
exceeding $50 on persons transgressing such ordinances, and to levy 
taxes to the amount of two and a half mills on the dollar. 

On the second Monday of April, the newly-elected selectmen were to 
meet and choose one of their number president, who was to be known 
as "town magistrate." A majority of the board was a quorum, and could 
determine the time of subsequent meetings, fine the absentees, and 
transact other business. The "magistrate," besides presiding over the 
:; board of selectmen and signing all their ordinances, had power to try 

f aH>i>ffenses against the city laws, to impose such fines as the board 

fixed and to authorize the town constable to seize property, if necessary, 
to pay such fines. This constable, a clerk, a treasurer and an assessor 
were to be elected by the board, who fixed their compensation. The 
board also had power to compel the inhabitants of the town to work 
the- roads to the distance of one mile from the courthouse, and could 
even compel citizens living outside the town limits, but along the line 
of the said mile of road, to work thereon. The powers of the police jury 
were to cease, "so far as regards the police and government of the 
town of Baton Rouge," except that it retained the power to tax all real 
estate in the parish. 

The selectmen were later authorized, by an act of February 20. 
1818, to impose license taxes on stores, auctioneers, saloons, taverns, 
peddlers, etc., and to regulate the ferry. They were forbidden to ap- 
praise property within the town at a higher rate than the parish ap- 
praisement of the same, and could not tax any person or article more 


than one-fourth of the state tax. The jurisdiction over roads was 
cliansred from one mile to the city limits. The same act empowered the 
board to sue and be sued. By an act of February 17, 1821, voters were 
required to be residents of the town; while an act of March 22, 1822, 
made the "town magistrate" elective by the voters, instead of by the 
selectmen. A corporation tax was also made a prerequisite for voting^. 

Locked in the rire-proot" vault in the office of the Commissioner of 
Finance there is today in the City Hall of Baton Rouge a thin, narrow 
volume, with weather-stained pages and faded inscriptions. This is the 
minute book of the first board of selectmen of Baton Rouge, and covers 
parts of the years 1818-19-20. Through the courtesy of Commissioner 
L. J. Ricaud, and by his assistance, I was enabled to examine and read 
this record. Without his help I should have been unable to decipher 
some of the entries. The first minute is as follows: *'On this loth day 
of April, ISIS, the board of selectmen of the Town of Baton Rouge in 
the Parish of East Baton Rouge, State of Louisiana, assembled at the 
Court House of the said Parish agreeable to an act of the Legislature 
passed January 6, 1817." The date January 6 appears to be a clerical 
error, for in both the French and the English editions of the statute, 
the act is approved by Governor James Villere on January 16. Perhaps 
it was passed on the 6th and approved on the 16th. The constitution of 
1S12 permitted the Governor to retain a bill ten days, instead of five 
as at present. 

As we have seen, this act provided for an election on the first Mon- 
day in April, 1817, and the board was to organize on the following Mon- 
day. "Why, then, this delay of a year? For April 13 was the second 
Monday in 1S18. Was there an epidemi<i in April, 1817? Or did high 
water prevent the holding of the election? When was it held finally — • 
in the summer, fall or winter of 1817? Or in April, 1818? So far, I 
have been unable to discover. 

Returning to the record book, we find that on April 13, only four 
of the five selectmen were present, namely: Peter DuBoyle, William 
Williams, Hugh Crawford and J. P. Mitchel. After displaying their 
certificates of election and taking the oath of office, they organized by 
electing William Williams president or "town magistrate." Thomas C. 
Stanard was made clerk, D. E. Pintado treasurer and collector, and 
Pierre Jantino "police officer." or constable. A committee was appointed 
to consider the matter of taxes, and another to see about filling up a 
"ravine" in the street in front of a member's house. The board ad- 
journed until Thursday, April 16. at which time the fifth selectman, 
John Billeivre, appeared and qualified. 

On this day the board enacted its first ordinance, which imposed a 
tax of $5 per month on peddlers and hawkers offering goods for sale in 
town, and $10 per month for persons carrying goods to boats or "carts" 
and offering these goods for sale [clearly an indirect export duty]. It 
was decided by the selectmen to light the city. For this purpose five 
lamps were deemed adequate. In this connection it is interesting to. 
note that the streets were not yet named, so the lamps were ordered 
erected at the corner by Such-an-One's store or opposite So-and-So's 
house. A number of the ensuing entries show that the board was not 
heavily burdened with business; frequently they merely met, read the 
minutes and adjourned. 

A word now as to the personnel of the first board. I have been able 
to ascertain a few items about only three of the members. William Wil- 
liams, the president of the board, was of Tory descent, I am informed, 
his people having sought refuge in West Florida during the American 
Revolution. None of his descendants now^ survives. Hugh Crawford 
had been one of the officials appointed by the West Florida Revolu- 


tionists, who captured this post from the Spaniards in 1810. Crawford 
was Ion? a notary here, and otherwise prominent in public affairs. 
J. P. Mitchel is said to have lived in a small brick house on Lafayette 
Street, on the site now occupied by the store of the Doherty Hardware 
Company. He was reputed to be one of Lafitte's men who had settled in 
Baton Roug^e after the battle of New Orleans, 

The minutes of the board for April 12, 1819, reveal that of the 
orig-inal selectmen, President Williams was the only one who had been 
re-elected. Perhaps the others were not candidates. The last legible 
entry in the book is for April 7, 1820. It is probably the record of the 
final meeting: of the second board. 

Now arises a question as to the one hundredth birthday of the 
American municipality of Baton Rouge. Is it 1917 or 1918? As a gen- 
eral proposition, we may say that an incorporated town becomes a 
municipality on the date of issue of its charter. But no charter appears 
to have been issued formally in this case. The act of January 16, 1817, 
does not instruct the governor or the secretary of state to issue a char- 
ter to Baton Rouge. Instead, it prescribes minutely, as we have seen, 
the method by which Baton Rouge was to become an incorporated town, 
by choosing- officers, whose duties are carefully explained, with their 
rights and limitations. The statute, then, is virtually a charter. The 
learned head of the Department of Political Science of Louisiana State 
University (Professor A. T. Prescott) is of the opinion that in such a 
case municipal law would regard the corporation as coming into exist- 
ence when the statute was promulgated, regardless of the date of the 
election of selectmen. Prof. Prescott thinks that the point has never 
been passed on by the Louisiana courts, but he is positive that in just 
such a case the Supreme Court of Massachusetts decided that the date 
of the statute determines the age of the municipality. The distinguished 
Dean of the Law School (Professor R. L. Tullis) agrees with Prof. Pres- 
cott. We are entitled, then, as a matter of law, of equity, of history 
and of common-sense, I think, to consider January 16, 1817, as the birth- 
day of Baton Rouge, the American city, which is then two years and 
eight days junior to the battle of New Orleans. April 13, 1818, is merely 
the date of the infant's christening-. 


L, Moreau Lislet, General Digest of the Acts of the Legislature of 
Louisiana. I, 83-91. 

" Statutes of Louisiana for 1817. 

Minute Book of the Selectmen of the Town of Baton Rouge. 

Conversations with Commissioner L. J. Ricaud, Engineer J. J. 
Mundinger, Dean R. L. Tullis, Prof. A. T. Prescott. 

Letter from General John McGrath. 


(Address of Dr. Pierce Butler at the Centennial Meeting, 

January 16, 1917.) 

It is a good thing to have a name; it is a better thing to have a 
name that has some distinction and some meaning; and this is true of 
towns as well as of men. Did you ever read of Tristram Shandy and 
how he got his name, or of Pisistratus Caxton and how he got his? We 
are particularly favored in Louisiana, and we can show how a good 
name has helped to grow a good town, while a Balise has remained but 
what the name implies: a light house; and a Chef Menteur deceives no 
one but the fishermen. But it is a bit uncomfortable to have a good 


name and yet not be able altogether to account for it. Such is the case 
with Baton Rouge.* 

The first distinct mention of the place seems to occur in Il^erville's 
journal of the trip made by him in the early months of 1699 to discover 
the indirect waterway that was believed to lead from Pontchartrain to 
the great river. Iberville in his Journal (Margry, IV, 173) describes his 
reception by the Bayougoulas, and then continues: 

"Le 17 (mars) nous nous sommes rendus a une petite riviere a la drolte 
de la riviere, a cinq lieues et demie de la couchee. . . .Cette riviere fait la 
separation du pays pour les chasses des Bayous:oulas et des Oumas. II y a 
sur le bord beaucoup de cabancs couverts de lataniers et un may sans branches, 
rougy, avec plusiers testes de poissons et d'ours attachees en sacrifice. Le 
terrain est parfaitement beau." 

I call attention to the punctuation adopted by Margry, and also to the 
fact that there is no mention made of any particularly high ground. 

In the narrative of Iberville's journey translated in B. F. French's 
Historical Collections (ed. N. Y. 1875, II, 76) we find: "On Tuesday, the 
17th. . . .we landed at a small river which resembled a lake, and in which 
the Indians said there was an abundance of fish. We found several cabins 
covered with palmetto leaves. . . .They have erected here a large post thirty 
feet high, which is ornamented with carved designs of fishes." 

I call attention to the description of this post, which looks more like a 
totem pole, and w^hich is not described as red; and I also note that this 
mention of it seems, perhaps like Iberville's, to locate it on Bayou Manchact 
for it is on a later page that, and at the approximate distance from Manchac 
we find: "At thirteen leagues from the village of the Mongoulachas we met 
with very high land, a thing we had not before seen since our entrance into 
the river." 

Whether the original post was at Manchac or on the bluffs, its name 
became known from the first, and thus Baton Rouge is older than New Or- 
leans, for the third of the original records of this journey of Iberville's, the 
memoir written by Penicaut some years subsequent to this trip says: (Mar- 
gry, V, 393) "De la (Manchac), nous montasmes cinq lieues plus haut, ou 
nous trouvasmes des bords forts eleves, que 1 'on appelle en ce pays des Ecores 
et en sauvage Istrouma, qui sigiiifie Baton Rouge, parce qu'ily a en cet 
endroit un poteau rougi, que les Sauvages avoient plante, po'or marquer la 
separation des terres de deux nations." 

In this, not only is the name definitely given for the first time, and as if 
it were well known from the earliest days, but the place is very positively 
located on the first high lands. 

Moreover, in Charlevoix's record of his journey down the river, (French, 
III, 176), we find the name again distinctly, though not the certainty of loca- 
tion, for he says: "On New Year's Day, (1722). . . .we staid all the day in 
this grant (of Artaguette's), which is not much for^vaider than the rest, anp 
which. they call le Baton Rouge." 

And the familiar reference of LePage du Pratz, (Paris, 1758, II, 
267), again assures of the early renown of the name, indicating conclusively, 
to my mind, the fact that an C)fiicial establishment or town of some sort 
had then been made here, but still further bewilders because it neither 
indicates with certainty whether the place meant was on the bluffs or n^-, 
nor gives the same sort of account of the origin of the name. Since this has 

*On this point and the next few paragraphs, see article by Scroggs 

tFor the contrary view, see Scroggs, "Origin of the Name Baton 
Rouge," above. 


the virtue of being so highly ir mantic as to approach to the literary, 1 quote 
this tale from our Louisiana Herodotus: "Le Baton Rouge est aui:si, a I'Est 
du Fleuve, et distant de vin^t y six lieuesde la Nouvelle Orleans; cetait autre- 
fois la Concession de M. D'ArtayUvUte d'Iron c'est la Ton voit ce fameaux 
CipresduquelunCharpentier de bateaux voulait faire deux Pirogues, Tune de 
seize tonneaux, et I'autre de quatorze. Comme le cipres est un bois rouge, 
quel qu'un des premiers Voyageurs qui arriverent dans ce Canton, s'avisa 
de dire que cet arbre feroit un beau baton; on I'a nomme ensuite la Baton 
Rouge: sa hauteur n'a pu encore etre mesuree; elle est a perte de vue." 

This reference, although its account of the name be quite ridiculous, 
is of significance, I think, in lixing the dote of the official establishment 
here. When LePage du P'ratz wrote, it had ceased to be merely the 
concession of a private owner, and we may therefore assume that the 
post of Bciton Rouge was founded between 1722 and 1758. More care- 
ful study of official documents will, I think, at some time enable us to 
fix the date more accurately. 

The importance of the post as a natural boundary line, we have 
seen, had been understood by the Indians. It was also clearly indicated 
by the fact that Bayou Manchac was made the boundary between the 
part of Louisiana ceded to Great Britain and the part given to Spain, 
in 1763. And the British, realizing its value, sought to defend Fort 
Richmond with a considerable garrison when the American Revolution 
broke out. But Spain in these years was by no means a dead power, 
and she had the good fortune to be represented by a man of courage 
and energ>'. Governor Galvez. Since the events that follow constitute 
the only share of Louisiana in the War of the Revolution, and since they 
also gave occasion for the first appearance of Baton Rouge in Louisiana 
literature, we should read the colorful narrative of the romantic Gayarre, 
telling us how, in September, 1779, Galvez led his hastily organized force 
up the river from New Orleans, overpowered the garrison in the fort at 
Manchac, set up his batteries during the night within easy range of the 
fort at Baton Rouge, and forced its garrison to capitulate. Though the 
forces engaged were small, and the fighting never became desperate, 
Galvez's exploit was by no means a pitiful one; and its consequences, 
I venture to say, have not been overstated by the enthusiastic Gayarre, 
for the growth of the United States down the valley of the Mississippi 
might have been quite seriously interfered with had the British remained 
in possession of the territory of West Florida and the posts of Natchez 
and Baton Rouge. 

With all praise for the Spanish governor, who thus unwittingly 
prepared the way for the Americans, we are constrained to wonder at 
the magniloquence of the poem written by the famous philanthropist, 
Julien Poydras. in praise of "La Prise du Morne du Baton Rouge." The 
young poet-soldier, following the irreproachable model of the "classic" 
Boileau, produces verses, it is true; but not even the delicate touch of 
Miss Grace King (New Orleans, the Place and the People, 216) can 
persuade us that he has produced poetry. "In the poem, the god of the 
Mississippi sends Scesaris. the nymph, to find out the cause of the 
tumult which, assaulting his ears, has broken into his slumbers. Scesaris 


'Je I'ai vu ce Heros. qui cause tes allarmes, 

II resemblait un Dieu, revetu de ses armes, 
Son Panache superbe alloit au gre du vent. 

Et ses cheveux epars lui servoient d'ornement. 
Un maintain noble et fier annoncoit son courage, 

L'heroique vertu, brilloit sur, son visage, 
D'une main il tenoit son Sabre eblouissant, 

De Tautre il retenoit son Coursier bondissant.' 

* Scesaris' description of the intrepid army of Louisianians, white and 
colored, and their brave deeds, under such a leader, excited the god of the 
Mississippi, even as it does us today. He interrupted her and 'laisse eclater 
sa joie' promising in admiration of Galvez, — 

. . *Je dirai a mes Eaux, de moderer leur coui-s, 

Et de fertiliser le lieu de son sejour. 
Par des sentiers de Fleurs qu'il parvienne a la Gloire. 
Que son nom soit ecrit, au Temple de memoire.' " 

The work is interesting, as a "document," like the oaths of Strass- 
burg, but not as a piece of literature. 

[Concerning this engagement, Oayarre (History of Louisiana, III, 
125 ff) says]: "On the 27th, his arrangements being made, the governor 
took his departure in the morning, to recruit at the German and Aca- 
dian Coasts all the men that he might prevail upon to join him. On the 
same day, in the afternoon, his small army put itself in motion. It was 
composed of 170 veteran soldiers, 330 recruits, 20 carabiniers, 60 militia- 
men, and SO free blacks and mulattoes, of Oliver Pollock, the agent of the 
American Congress, with nine of his countrymen, as volunteers — making 
a total of 670 men, without one single engineer among them, says the 
Supplement to the Madrid Gazette, which relates all the details of this 
expedition. They were reinforced on the way by 600 men of every con- 
dition and color, besides IGO Indians, who had been gathered up at the 
German coast, at the Acadian Coast, at Opelousas, Attakapas and Pointe 
Coupee. These troops, when united, formed a body of 1430 men. Al- 
though they were provided with no tents, and with none of those articles 
which are usually deemed necessary to an army entering upon a cam- 
paign, yet they marched on with unabated ardor, and much order, 
through the thick woods, which at that time shaded a considerable por- 
tion of the banks of the river. With a view to guard against surprises, 
the colored men and the Indians were ordered to keep ahead of the main 
body of troops, at a distance of about three-quarters of a mile, and 
closely reconnoitre the woods. Next came the veteran troops, whose left 
was protected by the river and by the artillery of the boats, and whose 
right rested on the forest. The militia formed the rear guard. 

"On the 6th of September (1779) the Spaniards came in sight of 
Fort Manchac, situated at a distance of about 115 miles from New Or- 
leans. But disease and the fatigues of the journey had caused a diminu- 
tion of more than one-third in their number. It was only when he was 
about a mile and a half from the fort that Galvez informed his troops 
of the declaration of war against the English, and of the positive in- 
structions he had received to attack their establishments. This com- 
munication was responded to with demonstrations of joy; a general 
disposition was shown to come to close quarters with the enemy, and 
there was exhibited a patriotic emulation, as to which should distinguish 
himself most in the service of the king. 

"On the 7th, in the morning, the regulars were posted in an advan- 
tageous position, with the intention of opposing them to a body of 400 
Englishmen who were said to be coming with artillery and provisions to 


the relief of Manchac, and the assault was given to the fort by the 
militia with complete success. Gilbert Antoine de St. Maxent, brother- 
in-law to ex-Governor Unzaga, was the first who entered the fort 
through one of its embrasures. The garrison was composed of a captain, 
a first lieutenant and a second lieutenant, wirh twenty privates, of 
whom one was killed and five escaped with one of the lieutenants. The 
rest remained prisoners of war. This certainly was .no great exploit. 

"On the 8th, the inventory of the fort was made; six days of rest 
were allowed the troops; and on the 13th, they resumed their march for 
Baton Rouge, which is only fifteen miles fi*om Manchac. At a mile and 
a half from Baton Rouge, the army took its quarters, and the artillery 
was landed from the boats. Already had Grandpre, with all the forces 
which he had been able to bring with him from Pointe Coupee, occupied 
a position between Baton Rouge and Natchez, in order to interrupt all 
communication between these two places, as he actually did, after 
having possessed himself of two English posts, one of which was on 
Thompson's creek, and the other on the Amite, forcing their garrisons 
to surrender themselves prisoners of war. 

"Governor Galvez, having, with some officers, reconnoitred the fort 
of Baton Rouge, saw that it would be impossible to carry it by storm, 
on account of its strength. The fort was surrounded by a ditch, eighteen 
feet wide and nine in depth; it had, besides, very high walls, with a 
parapet protected with chevaux de frise, and a garrison of four hundred 
regulars and one hundred militiamen and was supplied with thirteen 
pieces of heavy artillery. The governor also considered that the greater 
portion of his forces consisted of natives of the country, among whom 
there were many heads of families, and that a victory would be dearly 
bought by the blood which it would cost, and the desolation it would 
spread in the colony.* Therefore, resisting the repeated and pressing 
solicitation of his troops to be led to the assault, he resolved to open 
trenches and establish batteries. 

"There was near the fort a wood which projected towards it in the 
shape of a triangle. This, at the first glance, seemed the most favorable 
spot from which to attack, and this the governor chose, to deceive the 
enemy, and to divert their attention from the point where he intended 
to carry on his works. Thither he sent, a detachment of militia, sup- 
ported by the colored companies and the Indians, in order that, under 
cover of the trees, and during the night, they should make as much 
noise as possible, and simulate an attack. 

"The English wasted and spent in vain their ammunition, by firing 
with ball and grape at that part of the wood from which they thought 
they would be assailed, whilst, in the meantime, the Spaniards, without 
being incommoded, were erecting their batteries within musket shot of 
the fort, behind a garden which concealed their operations. The English 
discovered the strategem when it was too late, and when the besiegers 
had succeded in sheltering themselves from the shot of their enemies. 

"On the following day, the 21st of September, at daylight, the Span- 
ish batteries, under the direction of Don Julian Alvarez, were plied with 
such accuracy and effect that, notwithstanding the briskness of the fire 
of the besieged, the fort was so dismantled by half past three in the 
afternoon, that the English sent two officers with a fiag of truce, to pro- 
pose articles of capitulation. Galvez would assent to no terms but those 
he was willing to offer, which were — that the garrison should surrender 
at discretion, and, at the same time, that Fort Panmure. at Natchez, 
should be delivered up to him. with its garrison, composed of SO grena- 
diers and their officers. The English accepted these conditions, and. 
after a delay of twenty-four hours, which was granted to them (during 
which they were observed to be engaged in burying a considerable num- 

- 4\ •■ 

ber of dead bodies), they came out with military honors, and marched 
500 paces from the fort, when they delivered up their arms and tla^s and 
remained prisoners of war. The veteran troops, which thus surrendered, 
consisted of 375 men. At the same time. Galvez dispatched a captain, 
with 50 men to tal<e possession of Fort Panmurc, at Natchez, which is 
about 130 miles distant from Baton Rouge. This fort it would have been 
very difficult to carry by force, because it was situated on an elevated 
and steep hill, and was difficult of access. In these two forts of Baton 
Rouge and Natchez was found a considerable number of militiamen and 
negroes, with arms in their hands. They were set free on account of 
the difficulty of keeping securely so many prisoners." 

The little settlement so fought for and so sung about continued, 
however, to be of little note save as a strategic point. Thus the traveler 
Perrin du Lac (Paris, 1805; see Robertson's "Louisiana," I. 228) can find 
little good to say of it: "Some miles below the mouth of the Red River, 
on the opposite bank, is the small fort of Baton Rouge, occupied by a 
few Spanish soldiers under the command of a sub-lieutenant. All "the 
vessels that ascend or descend are obliged to stop there, in order to 
repeat the declaration that they have made or that which they will have 
to make at the American fort. The fort is of so little importance and 
the number of inhabitants so inconsiderable that I shall not stop to 
speak of them. A few huts rather than houses are scattered here and 
there in its environs, and are inhabited by poor, dirty and lazy Span- 
iards." In this one may perhaps read between the lines that the good 
traveler's wrath had been roused by the having to stop at Baton Rouge 
as a port of call. At all events, the testimony of that remarkable Dr. 
Paul Alliot, in 1803, is worth quoting as a counteractive (Robertson, 
I, 177): "After having left the Cote de Manchac a- distance of ten 
leagues, the traveler reaches the fort of Baton Rouge, which is guarded 
by an officer and sixty soldiers. There is a hamlet where one can find 
three score houses, a priest and a district commandant. Its inhabitants 
raise indigo, cotton, and all sorts of vegetables." 

But at the very time that the little post seemed most scorned by 
friend and foe, we have the most remarkable pre-vision of its future 
value in the words of a Spanish official. It is true that some his.toririns 
have said harsh things of Gov. Salcedo, and that Claiborne ^vrote to 
Madison (Robertson. II, 231): "Even when exercising the sacred char- 
acter of a judge [Salcedo] often Amended his decisions to the highest bid- 
der." Yet when Salcedo wrote despatch after despatch urging his gov- 
ernment to take some active steps to guard against the American peril, 
he was neither a traitor nor a fool; and events are even now justifying 
his wisdom when he wrote thus to Godoy, on December 13, 1803 (Robert- 
son, II, 146): After reporting the transfer of the colony to France, he 
points out the grave danger to all Spanish possessions from the prox- 
imity of the pushing American settlements, and comments on the fa- 
cility of communcation between Baton Rouge and Pensacola, "not only 
by Lakes Pontchartrain and Maurepas, but also by land. All these 
reasons seem to me sufficient so that I ought to establish for the time 
being the capital and my residence in Baton Rouge. Of its convenience 
for the greater service of the king I shall have the honor to inform your 
Excellency ... I trust, your Excellency, that Baton Rouge, distant 
(from New Orleans only forty leagues up the river), will be, with the 
lapse of time, what New Orleans is now, and many advantages which its 
higher location offers . . . There are only two points in which the 
general government of these possessions of our king may be established, 
either in Baton Rouge or in Pensacola . . and that of the two above- 
mentioned points, Baton Rouge is preferable." . y ;- . , 

45 , 

Though Salcedo was disappointed in his hope or making? Baton 
Rouge the capital, its geo.!?raphical position was soon to make it the 
center of stirring and significant events, to which we can on an occasion 
of this kind devote far less time than they deserve. 

Whether or not the "Florida Parishes," including Baton Rouge, 
should have been included in the transfer of Louisiana, made in 1803, 
the United States was already laying claim to Baton Rouge and the dis- 
trict of ^lobile as far as the Perdido river. And Governor Casa Calvo 
was not so far off in his guess when he said that the Americans would 
get this territory even if they had to foment insurrection and resort to 
arms (Robertson, II, 1S5-6). For the people of the Felicianas, largely of 
American birth, became restless, more because of the non-feasance than 
the mal-feasance of Spain. The Kempers, who were a family of hardy 
pioneers of the sort who could mingle a puritanical religion with a most 
ungodly thirst for Spanish blood, began the filibustering as early, cer- 
tainly, as 1S05. They, with other residents in the neighborhood of 
Pinckneyville and along the ill-defined border between the Spanish ter- 
ritory of West Florida and the territory which is now Mississippi, were 
continually at odds with the Spanish authorities, and received more or 
less aid from the American-born population under Spanish rule. Mat- 
ters finally came to a head with the forma,tion of a provisional govern- 
ment for West Florida, gi\ ing nominal allegiance to Spain, in a conven- 
tion which met and acted not far from Baton Rouge, on August 22, 1810.. 
The events that led up to this convention, and the short life history of 
the new government will be found quite fully described by Mr. H. L. 
Favrot, in the first volume of the Publications of the Louisiana Histor- 
ical Society, 

Here I can no more than say that the representative of Spain at 
Baton Rouge, Colonel De Lassus, was compelled to accept, with the best 
grace he could, the acts of the self-constituted convention. But it was 
clear that the Americans behind the movement meant that there should 
be some stable and efficient authority in the parishes — if not that of 
Spain, then some other. Accordingly, when they found that De Lassus 
was profuse in promises, but absolutely inactive, they suspected him of 
acting in bad faith and determined to discharge themselves from all 
allegiance to Spain. A small Ijody of men, acting under the orders of 
Captain — later called General — Philemon Thomas, and others who rep- 
resented the leaders in the convention, marched suddenly upon the 
almost ruinous fort at Baton Rouge. It seems not possible to determine 
with certainty the numbers of the garrison or of the attacking force, for 
the accounts of this affair differ widely. Almost certainly, however, the 
garrison was small, poorly armed, and taken at a disadvantage so great 
that but little resistance was offered to the Americans. The only notable 
casualty was the death of the unfortunate young commandant. Lieu- 
tenant Louis de Grandpre, whose fate, as we shall see in some of the ac- 
counts, was not without sinister shadows. General Thomas reports no 
fatalities among the attacking force, and is not very precise in recording 
the numbers engaged on either side. Since Mr. Favrot and others indi- 
cate that Thomas was as innocent of "book larnin' " as popular legend 
loves to make Jackson, we may suspect that his brief report, of which I 
quote the chief part concerning the tight, was prepared by another: "Of 
the Governor's troops Lieutenant Louis de Grandpre was mortally 
wounded. Lieutenant J. B. Metzinger, commandant of artillery, was also 
wounded, one private killed and four badly wounded. We took twenty 
prisoners, and among whom is Col. De Lassus. The rest of the garrison 
escaped by flight." 

This looks as if there were no large number of men in the fort, and 
as if there had been really no fight. The impression is confirmed by the 


account quotea Dy F^avrot as from a contemporary of French or Spanish 
sympathies, who reports that there were but 15 men in the fort, that not 
a gun was fit to fire, and none was fired; that young de Grandpre's 
death was little better than murder. And the glaring discrepancies in 
the accounts are further shown when we find this highly colored narra- 
tive Quoted by Monette (Valley of the Miss., II, 487) from the New Or- 
leans Commercial Times of March, 1846. After recounting how the forces 
consisting of about forty dragoons from St. Francisville under Captain 
De Passau and about eighty riflemen under Captain Philemon Thomas 
had been gathered and had approached the fort: "The Spanish garri- 
son, about 150 in number, was drawn up within the gates to receive the 
cavalry as they advanced. Dashing in among them, Captain DePassau 
demanded of them the surrender of the fort; alarmed at his reckless 
daring, the garrison retired to the guardhouse, where they were rallied 
by the commandant. Col. de Grandpre. Captain DePassau demanded of 
him the surrender of the fort, when he ordered his men to fire. At the 
same instant. Grandpre was shot down and DePassau charged the Span- 
iards, who, at the same time, hearing the war-whoop from Captain 
Thomas and his riflemen, who were rushing in at the southern gate, 
called for quarter and surrendered." There is in all accounts a fairly 
pronounced effort to slur over the incidents immediately connected wath 
De Grandpre's death. 

If the capture of the fort was no very heroic exploit, it was at least 
decisive of the fate of all West Florida. The insurgents had already 
provided for the organization of a provisional government. On Septem- 
ber 23 they raised a flag over the fort, a blue woolen field with a single 
silver staij in the center, and took steps to offer the friendship of the 
new Republic of West Florida to the United States and to the rest of 
the world. On November 29, Fulwar Spikwith was inaugurated as gov- 
ernor. But the new republic, vrhich might have gone down into history 
as the first of the independent republics to merge with the United States, 
simply went out like the creature of a dream when Governor Claiborne, 
acting on instructions from Washington, came down from Natchez and 
took possession. The great republic simply ignored the first "Bonnie 
Blue Flag." 

We shall not attempt even to mention many of the minor incidents 
of our history, of course. But we must not forget the incorporation of 
'the town of Baton Rouge, 1817. nor should we fail to mention, in that 
connection, how the incorporators of the town, with a generous notion 
that it might grow, did not define its corporate limits on one side at all. 
One is reminded of the prudent mother who makes the gown a good 
deal too big for little daughter, confident in the future. But this little 
town did not begin to grow for many years. It remained little more 
than a port of call for steamboats, a most unlovely little group of un- 
painted stores and warehouses and cabins. Even after the remo\'al of 
the capital to Baton Rouge, in 1849. and the erection of our picturesque 
statehouse — which I hope you will let no thoughtless and irreverent 
legislators destroy — the town was no place to linger in. I do not know 
■whether political exigency or personal discomfort of the delegates to the 
convention of 1852 is accountable for the fact that that convention made 
a complete state constitution in but a few weeks, as compared with 
months si)ent at the convention of 1845 in New Orleans. 

Still another convention met in Baton Rouge, and it might be said 
that it also acted in haste; but here men were driven on in fatal passion, 
as the secession movement gained in momentum. Not without some 
understanding, at least, of the gravity of the step they were taking, the 
members of the convention passed the Ordinance of Secession, in the 
statehouse. January 26, 1S61. The Federal arsenal and other military 






posts here and elsewhere in Louisiana were seized in blooaiess expedi- 
tions of the state militia — and equally bloodless was the occupation of 
the town, as a matter of course, by the returning Federal soldiers after 
the fall of New Orleans, in 1S62. 

But in the summer of 1862 the Confederates rallied and saw that 
the possession of the town of Baton Rou^re would be of great value, en- 
abling them to control the Red River section, to keep open oommunica- 
tion with Texas, and to nullify, in large measure, the efforts of the cap- 
ture of New Orleans. 

The Federals had at one time a considerable force at Baton Rouge, 
which they thought likely to be an object of attack; but there seems 
to be some doubt as to the' actual number of effectives in the town In 
August, 1862, the Federals claiming about 2500, the Confederates esti- 
mating the force at nearly double that number. Gen. John C. Breckin- 
ridge, lately vice-president of the United States, led an army of about 
three thousand men, veterans from the battles around Vicksburg, to 
undertake the recapture of Baton Rouge. Advancing from the Amite 
river, Breckinridge delayed his attack until assurance was given that he 
would have the indispensable aid of the Confederate ironclad "Ar- 
kansas," to drive off the Federal gunboats in the river, that would make 
it impossible for him to hold a position on the river bank. When the 
news came that the ''Arkansas" had passed Bayou Sara, Breckinridge 
marched and began the attack on the Federal outposts, on the Clinton 
Plank Road, in the early morning of August 5. There seems to have 
been unquestionable da^h and courage in the whole of the battle that 
followed, but also the sort of mistakes that were so common with the 
poorly disciplined troops of the early days, and that often, as here, led 
to costly losses. A body of partizan rangers, irregular volunteers, whose 
services as scouts were thought to be valuable, precipitated the attack 
upon the Federal outposts, in spite of Breckinridge's positive orders, and 
in the ensuing confusion, the Confederates fired upon some of their own 
men, valuable officers were lost, and doubtless a very useful warning 
was given to the Federal forces. The fighting once started, Breck- 
inridge very wisely tried to rush the matter, though still vainly hoping 
to hear the sound of the "Arkansas* " guns. In spite of the support given 
them by the gunboats, the Federal troops were driven back, and, in fact, 
were pursued into the very town. But Breckinridge's men were ex- 
hausted, had no water, and were hut iH provided with guns and ammuni- 
tion. To cap the climax, news came that the "Arkansas" lay disabled 
and helpless four miles up the river. Breckinridge had sustained a loss 
of 44 6 men, and felt that he had to retire. But the battle was a t^ictory. 
In Its results, even if the town had not been at once taken, for the Fed- 
enil losses had been very severe, including the commanding officer. Gen. 
Williams, and on August 21 the Federal forces evacuated Baton Rouge. 

Fiut we shall not pursue the story of that struggle whose memories 
of heroism are yet so painful, though so precious to our people, nor yet 
the darker story of the years rmmediately after the Civil War. I'eace 
hath her victories no less reno^\Tied than war; and in the few moments 
that remain to me, I shall invite your attention to the gratifying prog- 
ress of the city of Baton Rouge since tho early days of the last century. 
I myself, if you will pardon a personal note, can rememl^er the Baton 
Rouge of those days, still the steamboat days — nothing niuch more than 
the wharfboat, Mr. Anthony Doherty's store on one side, Mr. Garig's 
store on the other, and the statehouse in the background. And then 
came the Valley railroad, and the beginning of the end of the steamboat, 
and yet other railroads, and the great industries that need railroads and 
that bring railroads, until Baton Rouge is become a great trade center 
find a port with ships leaving its docks for the uttermost parts of the 

1 ' . ■ ' ; ^ ■•■ . ■ ■ ■ 

j earth. It has all been so sudden, this blossomlngr ror:n, that I am afraid 

I many Louisianians who know of the ^reat University here do not know, 

as we do, that there is also a thriving city here and that the city is proud 
of the University and the University is loyal to the city. 



j. (Reported by Mrs. M. L. Bonham, Jr., at the meeting of Dec. 14, 1916.) 

Some weeks ago I spent an hour with :\rrs. Lucretia Thomas Bridges, 

of our town. She is eighty-eight years old, can't see, but all her other 

faculties are intact. She has not had a doctor nor taken a dose of 

medicine in twenty years, so she tells me, and her intellect is exception- 

' ally clear. 

■ She is the only living grandchild of General Philemon Thomas, and 
•j seemed much interested in talking about him. I shall give you the 
I information gotten from her, as nearly as I can. 

! Philemon Thomas was born in Virginia (perhaps that part now Ken- 

■ tucky) in 1763. At the age of thirteen, in 1776, he ran away and entered 
r the Revolutionary army. At night his father had locked away his 
I clothes for fear of this, but in some way he managed to escape all the 
I • , same. His parents saw him no more until eight years later, when they 
I were sitting on the front porch (they don't have galleries in Mrginia), 

and 'saw a strange young man ride up, who proved to be their son 
r Philemon. 

i " He first married (in Kentucky) Elizabeth Craig, the daughter of one 

I of the two Dissenting ministers whom Patrick Henry defended for 

! preaching without a license from the Church of England. Henry passed 

f the courthouse, overheard the charge, came in and asked to be allowed 

I to defend them. 

I • Gen. Thomas's second wife was Fannie Hawkins. 

I He had four daughters, two of whom married Thomases, and two, 

I Gales. 

I In 1805 I*hilemon Thomas moved from Kentucky to West Florida. 

- Five years after he coninumded the West Florida revolutionary troops 

\ who captured Baton Rouge from the Spanish under Grandpre. 

1 General Thomas lived at the corner of America and St. Ferdinand 

I streets, where the Kornmtyer furniture store now stands. He owned 

a great deal of property in and around Baton Rouge, as is shown by 
the fact that he gave each daughter 600 acres of land and six slaves 
as a marriage portion. 

In 1814-15 General Thomas commanded the militia of the Florida 
parishes in the New Orkans campaign, and participated in the battle 
of New Orleans, January S. ISI'.. Mrs. Bridges says her grandfather 
was one of the most distinguished looking men she ever met, and then 
the dear old soul said: "I'm exactly like him — when you see me you see 

He had red hair, wonderfully clear blue eyes, was very tall and 
' large. During the latter part of his life he was so fat that walking was 

difficult, so. being devoted t.» his church (the Baptist), since he could 
not go to it. he made the m'>untain come to Mahomet. He took down 
all the partitions in the house next to his and had church furniture put 
therein, so that he could attend all the services. 



At the outbreak of the Mexican War (1846), on seeing Kentucky- 
troops passing through Baton Rouge on their way to Mexico, though he 
was eighty-three years old, General Thomas waved his hat enthusias- 
tically, and cried: "Boys, if I were ten years younger, I'd go with you!" 

The old gentleman died suddenly, next year. He was in his usual 
health, but one evening, when reading with his grandson, he laid his 
book aside, said he did not feel well and went to bed. A few moments 
later he was found dead. 

Besides Mrs. Bridges, General Thomas has the following descend- 
ants living: Messrs. McBurney Dean, Millard, Shirley and Ed Thomas 
of Baton Rouge; Mr. Andrew Thomas, of New Orleans; Mrs. T. H. 
Corcoran and Miss Fannie Hudgens, of Port Allen. 




(Contributed by Mr. Howell Morgan.) 

Washington, D. C. March 25, 1916. 
My Dear Howell: 

Many thank.s for your very interesting- letter and the enclosures. I 
was immensely interested in the newspaper clipping- giving an account 
of the meeting of the Historical Society, and I hope that it will be a 
great success. You have plenty of historical matter connected with 
Baton Rouge, if it can only be hunted up, but, unfortunately, many, if 
not all, of the records were destroyed when the state house was i/urned, 
and many others were pillaged or scattered into the streets when private 
houses were ransacked at the time of the capture of the city during the 
Civil War. For instance, among other things of great historical value, 
there was taken from your grandfather's house the duelling pistols of 
his grandfather. Colonel George Morgan of the Revolutionary army. 
It was with these pistols that the celebrated historical duel between 
General Cadwallader and the Comte de Conway was fought. The duel 
grew out of the "Gates Cabal" against General Washington, in which 
the French officer with the Irish name was severely wounded. Whoever 
the man is who is now in possession of those weapons, he oannot have 
the slightest idea of their historical value. 

The Spaniards alwaj's claimed that they had not sold Baton Rouge 
and that part of Louisiana to the French, and when Bonaparte sold 
Louisiana to the United States, they claimed that he had no right to 
give title to that part of the colony north and east from Baton Rouge 
to Florida, Before the sale, Colonel Philip Hickey and my mother's 
father. Major Richard Fowler, both held commissions from the Spanish 
King. Col. Hickey's commission is still in the possession of his family. 
Major Fowler was a retired officer of the British army. Both he and 
Col. Hickey were British subjects, and you will see from a copy of a 
letter I am sending you that neither of them seemed to relish the idea 
of the Yankees governing them. Your great-grandfather Fowler had 
several plantations, one in the "Highlands," near Baton Rouge; one 
two or three miles from the city on the road that goes to Greenwell 
Springs, not very far from where Thomas Green Davidson's place was, 
which was called "Little Misery," and another some place in the bayou 
country. He also owned estates in British Guiana, and it was in going 
to look after these that he took passage in a ship bound for Demerara 
and neither he nor the ship was ever heard of afterwards. He left a 
widow, who died immediately after his departure, and their children 
were very young, and the usual thing happened; that is why you and 
I are poor today. 

I am also sending you a copy of a letter of Benjamin Franklin to 
your great-grandfather. General John Morgan. Make a copy of it and 
send it back to me, if you think it worth while, as this is the only copy 
I have. The original is in the possession of our relatives in Pittsburg.* 

Colonel George Morgan was the first man in America to receive a 
gold medal for agriculture; the medal is still in the possession of the 

* See Enclosure A, below. ,- 
t See Enclosure B, below. 




• - 




I am much interested in the names so familiair to me which I see in 

the account of the meeting of the Historical Society I notice 

John Fred Odom. I remember Anthony Odorn, whom we used to call 
"Tony;" he was several years older than myself, hut used to make a 
great pet of me and I was very fond of him. The names Favrot, Bird, 
Magruder, Kleinpeter, etc., made me homesick to see the dear old place 
once more. 

In the early part of the last century there lived in Baton Rouge a 
quiet French gentleman who was very modest and had very little to say 
of himself. His name was LaXoue. He was one of the aristocrats who 
escaped the guillotine during the Revolution in France. He never told 
any one who he was, until in some legal business one day it was neces- 
sary for him to do so, and then he put his papers into my father's hands, 
begging him not to tell any one that he was the Comte de Verre, and 
it was only after Mr. LaXoue's death that my father told me who he 
was. LaXoue was his family name.t 

[Your son] Gibbes is Thomas Gibbes Morgan, 3rd. Your grand- 
father was named after Colonel Thomas Stanyarne Gibbes of South 
Carolina, who married Anne ^Morgan, sister of your great-grandfather 
and incidentally great-grandmother of the present Lord Astor (William 


• ■ ^, A. 

Philadelphia, Jan. 8, 1787. 

I find myself greatly obliged to your good Father for his Hive full 
of Honey which he has so kindly sent me, and to you for thinking of 
me and proposing it. I use it as a part of my Regimen every Morning 
at Breakfast. It is much the best I have met with in America, and I 
think fully equals the famous Honey of Xarbonne so much esteemed in 
France. With my hearty thanks please present to him my best wishes 
for his Prosperity and many happy Years to you both, in all of which 
this Family joins me. I am. Sir, 

Your most obedient servant, 

Mr. John Morgan, 

Prospect, near Princeton. 

B. ■ 

Xote from the Washington (Pa.) "Review and Examiner," Decem- 
ber 17, 1875: 

In 1786 while he was residing at Princeton he was presented with 
an elegant gold medal by the Philadelphia Society for Promoting Agri- 
culture. We have been permitted to examine this souvenir by our fellow 
townsman, D. T. Morgan, Esq., its present possessor. It is a beautiful 
specimen of mechanical art — one and three-fourths inches in diameter. 
On the obverse side are the words : "Phila. Society for Promoting Agri- 
culture to George Morgan for his Essay on Farmyard. Adjudged Feb- 
ruary 7, 17S6." The 'reverse contains a representation of a farm scene. 
Industry holding a plough drawn by a yoke of oxen, farm buildings. 

t See Miss Stirling's paper on Lafayette's visit, above. 


trees, etc., In the "DacKgrround. with the motto. "Venerate the Plough." 
Hon. Timothy Pickering in his letter forwardinq- the medal says: "It 
is the tirst premium ever gi^'en in American Agriculture." 



Taken from the Baton Rouge Advocate of January 13, 1857. 
(Contributed by President McGrath.) 

Pointe Coupee, La., June 24, 1810. 
Dear Sir: 

I yesterday returned from St. Francisville, a little town in the Span- 
ish territory, where I found the whole country in a state of rebellion. 
A plan had been drawn up by some person at Baton Rouge for the gov- 
ernment of the province. Their names are not kno\\m, but it is supposed 
Mr. Fulwar Skipwith is at the head. The most important parts of the 
proposed form of this new constitution are as follows: That the people 
elect a Governor, Secretary and Council of three to take possession of 
the country in behalf of Ferdinand VII, if he should again be restored 
to the throne of old *Spain; otherwise they are to hold their offices for 
life, the Governor to have authority to appoint all inferior officers, 
Judges, Alcaldes, Syndics, etc., for the administration of justice, with 
full power to remove them at pleasure, provided a majority of the Council 
concur. It is in reality, from the apparent intention and meaning of 
the framers, nothing more or less than an elective monarchy, giving 
as ample and uncontrollable powers to their Governor as any the most 
arbitrary prince in Europe possesses. Immediately upan the promulga- 
tion of this plan a meeting of the people took place, where a great deal 
was said upon the subject, pro and con. The crowd was such that I 
could not get near enough to hear distinctly all the debates, but the 
final determination was that the people labored under many and weighty 
grievances from the tyranny and injustice of Spanish officers, that a 
change was necessary, and that from the known administration of the 
present government no man can recover his just debts without sacrific- 
ing half their value in bribes and presents to the Judges; but the form 
proposed, if possible, entails upon them greater misery than that under 
which they now labor. They would therefore support it as it now is, 
until better can be adopted. 

The meeting then broke up, and the Company of Horse, under 
parade, saluted the Commandant with "God Save Ferdinand VII." 

■ [•It will be remembered that in 1808 Napoleon forced Charles IV 
and Ferdinand VII of Spain to abdicate, and put his brother Joseph on 
the Spanish throne. Revolutionary "juntas" or committees of those loyal 
to Ferdinand were formed to resist the Bonapartes. From 1810 on, the 
same device was used in many Spanish colonies. The juntas proclaimed 
their loyalty to Ferdinand VII, and professed to be holding the power in 
his name to keep it from the Bonapartes. When, in 1814, Ferdinand was 
restored and ibegan a truly Bourbon campaign of retrogression, the 
juntas began to declare their independence. The West Floridians were 
perhaps a little earlier than the others, but not different in their methods. 
See Resolutions from St. John's Plains, below; Favrot in Pubs. La. His. 
Soc. I, and Shepherd's "Latin America," chapter vii. — Editor.] 


You will observe that the above is only the resolution of one of the 
di.-tricts in the pro\ince; the others may be of a cUtferent opinion, and. 
If so, a civil war will commence without delay. 

When I inform you that almost all West Florida is settled by natives 
of the United States and since the French have been driven from Baton 
Rouge, which happened about two weeks since, there are not in the whole 
province one hundred families from a different country. 


From the Baton Rouge Advocate of January 27, 1857. 

(Contributed by President McGrath.) 

The proclamation of Governor DeLassus ordering- a convention of 
delegates from the several provinces of West Florida to meet at St. 
John's Plains, will be found in the volume of the "Advocate" for 1S51-2. 
The place of meeting was at the house of Mr. Lilly, on the right-hand 
side of the road leading from Baton Rouge to Jackson, near the Presby- 
terian or Plains .Church. One of the editors of the Natchez "Chronicle" 
was in daily attendance, and gave brief reports of the proceedings. 

St. John's Plains, July 25, 1810. 
During the day appointed for the meeting of the Convention, the 
whole of the delegation assembled and proceeded to business, appointing 
officers, etc. 

St. John's Plains, July 26. 

On motion it was unanimously 

Resolved, That it is the immediate object of this assembly: to pro- 
mote the safety, honor and happiness of his Majesty, Ferdinand VII's 
province of West Florida, to guard against his enemies, both foreign and 
domestic, to punish wrongs and to correct abuses dangerous to the ex- 
istence and prosperity of the state. 

Resolved, unanimously. That this Convention consider themselves 
legally authorized, by decree of his Excellency, hereto prefixed, to exer- 
cise the powers and perform the duties expressed in the proceedings of 

Ordered, That the Convention do now take into consideration the 
existing grievances of the country, which require immediate redress, 
whereupon the following resolutions w^ere unanimously adopted: 

Resolved, That we consider it a grievance that while the country is 
a place of refuge for the deserters and fugitives from justice 'from the 
neighboring States and Territories, men of character and fortune are 
prohibited from settling among us. by which means a population is 
daily increasing, dangerous to the peace and safety of the country, while 
we have no increase of such as are interested in maintaining order and 
obedience to the laws. 

Resolved, That we consider it a grievance, that in the present de- 
fenceless state of the country, when we are by no means secure, either 
from domestic insurrection or foreign Invasion, no sufficient measures 
are pursued to organize, arm and discipline the militia to act with 
^promptitude in defense of the country. 


i • Resolved, That we consider it a grievance, that evil-Gisposed persons 

I are not deterred from the commission of crimes by the example of 

r speedy and condign punishment of offenders; there being no tribunal 

j amongst us, competent to give final judgment in criminal cases, by 

[ which means, the most atrocious criminals either go unpunished or are 

i ' sent to distant tribunals, so that no advantage is derived from the ex- 

', ample of the punishment inflicted. 

!' Resolved, That we consider it a grievance, that much expense and 

^ delay in obtaining justice in civil cases, arises from want of a tribunal 

I among us competent to decide finally on all cases of law and equity; 

i ' from the too limited jurisdiction of inferior civil magistrates in the sev- 

[ eral districts of this government; and from the regulation which re- 

i. quires that all process be conducted in a language not understood by 

[ ■ a large majority of the people. 

I Resolved, That we consider it a grievance, that abuses and irregu- 

I *- larities have been practiced in the office of the Surveyor of the depart- 

! ment of the Government for some years past, by which means many 

I cases of litigation are likely to arise, and many of the inhabitants in 

r danger of being deprived of their just claims; and that the boundaries 

! of land, having been made by legal authority, these lands should he re- 

■ surveyed at any time after, with a view to alter their boundaries. 

I Resolved, That we consider as a grievance, the want, or almost en- 

1' . tire neglect of laws respecting roads, slaves, and live stock of every 

I description in the country. 

; On motion, ordered: That Messrs. J. H. Johnson. Thomas Lilley, 

[ Phillip Hickey and John ^Nlills, be considered a committee to draft a 

j ■ plan for the redress of grievances, and for the defense and safety of the 

|- country, and that they repoit by bill or otherwise. 

1 - Resolved, That we consider it as a grievance, that no fee-bills are 

i; ■ exhibited by officers in the employment of the Government, by which 

I - "^ neglect the inhabitants are subjected to impositions and extravagant 

\ : ^ charges by means of said officers, for their services; and that petitions 

i ■ ' of pressing importance, when presented, are often neglected, or remain 

I for a long time unanswered. 

I ° Resolved. That an uniform standard of weights and measures be 

i established throughout this Province, and that a select committee deter- 

I mine the best mode of carrying the same into effect. 

i Resolved, That we consider the facility with which the exiled French 

I from our Island of Cuba have found means to introduce themselves 

i ' into this province, a very serious and alarming grievance, and that 

I prompt measures ought to be resorted to, to prevent their future intro- 

I , duction. 

j 'Adjourned until tomorrow at 9 o'clock. 

I ' ■ Friday, July 27th, 1810. 

I The Committee assembled. On motion, 

I - Resolve<l. That it is a grievance, that a number of the inhabitants, 

i who are. and have been for some years past, resident in this province, 

; are unable to obtain titles to the lands on which they have settled by 
permission of the government, in conse(iuence of a mistaken policy or 

; ; design in the officers of government and which lands are occupied by 

- ' , - his Majesty's subjects. wh») are willing to come forward in support of 

I the general good and of the country. 

i Resolved. That It becomes the duty of this province to lessen as 

I ' much as possible the burthen.s of the Mother Country, engaged as she 
is at present, in a dubious contest for her own preservation; and that 
v. '^ provision ought to be made as soon as possible, for defraying the ex- 


penses of this department of the Government, from such resources as 
may be found within the country; that such part of the National Treas- 
ure as we mi2:ht have a claim to hereafter for that purpose, may bf 
employed for more useful and important national objects. 

Resolved, That it be recommended to the Committee appointed to 
provide for the redress of grievances, to take into consideration the ex- 
pediency of appointing- a Cuunsellor acquainted with the laws of Castile 
and the Indies, whose duty is shall be to give his opinion in writing to 
the Superior Court of Justice, on all important questions, or points of 
law which may arise in the discussion of the causes which may be ad- 
mitted to their decision. 

Resolved, That no member of this Convention shall be arrested by 
any civil process, during the session or prorogation, or when traveling 
to or from the plaec of meeting, until a final adjournment thereof. 


[The following letter, written by a British -officer in 1815, was given 
by the daughter of the writer, Miss Forbes, of Santa Cruz, Cal., to Dr. 
Jerome B. Thomas, of Palo Alto, who in turn gave it to Professor 
Ephraim D. Adams, of the Leland Stanford Jr. University, by whom 
a copy w'as kindly given to the Historical Society of East and West 
Baton Rouge, with permission to pu^blish it. A copy was presented to 
the Louisiana Historical Society, and at the suggestion of the editor of 
this volume, the letter was printed in the New Orleans "Times-Pica- 
yune" for Sunday, January 7, 1917.] 

On Board H. M. S. "Alceste." 
Off Cat Island, 28th Jan., 1815. 
James Cobb, Esq., 

Sec. East India Company, 
London, England. 

My dear Sir: 

The "Plantagenet-74" leaves us in the course of the day w'ith Gen. 
Lambert and Sir Alex Cochrane's dispatches for England and I feel 
particularly happy in the opportunity by her to be able to state to you 
certain circumstances regarding our expedition that you are not likely 
to become acquainted with through any public source of information. 
It is onlj- since I've landed in the neighborhood of New Orleans that 
we were undeceived as to the reception the Army was likely to meet 
with from the settlers of Louisiana and the Floridas in the event of our 
attacking them.. It was the received opinion founded certainly upon 
hints given to military ofhcers high in rank by Sir Alex before we 
quitted Jamaica and upon our arrival on the American Continent that 
the vexatious taxes imposed upon them by the American Government 
had so disgusted the people at large as to leave no doubt of our being 
received with open arms. A representation to this effect must have 
gone home and can be the only means of accounting for the reason why 
the Ministry did not send out a force wath us adequate to the enterprise 
we were sent on. The issue has proved that the Admiral's information 
was fallacious and the returns of our killed and wounded will convince 
the World that the opposition we have met with was owing to the 
unanimity of every class of men. In fact not a white man of even the 
lowest description has joined us since we landed, nor have our generals 
or the Admirals succeeded in obtaining information of the most trivial 
nature. We quitted Plymouth with barely 2000 men under Major-Gen- 


eral Keane. Off the western point of Jamaica we were reinforced by the 
remains of General Ross's army from the Chesapeake, and two black 
regiments. The entire number of our force even by this addition did 
not exceed 4500 bayonets; of this only 1600 men could be put on shore 
at once, owing to the want of i)oats in the fleet and the distance the 
troops were to be conveyed from Cat Island to within eight miles of 
New Orleans, about a hundred miles. We made our landing good with 
that number of men on the 23rd ultimo but with great difficulty, owing 
to the shallowness of the water and other impediments, and took up 
a position on the banks of the Mississippi without hearing of an enemy 
being [sic] in our neighborhood. We found tiie plantations deserted 
and learned from the slaves that their masters had joined the militia 
corps. Xo sooner, however, had daylight quitted us than we were sud- 
denly surprised by a tremendous fire of grape and round shot from a 
12-gun schooner that had drop.ped down unperceived by any person of 
the army from New Orle-ans just opposite our position, but within grape 
range. After suffering considerable loss, General Keane succeeded in 
getting the troops placed under the embankment of the river so that 
shot could occasion us little further injury. The vessel's fire was from 
thence returned by volleys of musketry all along our line. A quarter of 
an hour could scarcely have elapsed when we found ourselves assailed 
in the rear or on the flanks by about 7000 men under General Jackson, 
so that it became necessary once more to subject ourselves once more 
[sic] to the fire of the schooner so as to meet Jackson in the field. 
Notwithstanding their vast superiority both in numbers and mode of 
attack, from our entire ignorance of the enemy's movements or even a 
knowledge that any force beyond the militia of the immediate neighbor- 
hood existed, we resisted them in the first instance and fortunately suc- 
ceeded in dispersing them but not without the loss of 300 men. Jackson 
on this night gained surficient exi)erience to suffer us to be the assailants 
on all future occasions and allowed us to disembark our whole force 
without further molestation. Sir Pxlward Pakenham,to be our Com- 
mander-in-Chief, and General Gibbs, second in command, had an oppor- 
tuity of joining before anything further was attempted, and on the fol- 
lowing morning the schooner wa.--. set fire by red-hot shot from two 
guns we had landed. A reinforcement of the 7th and 43rd regiments 
joined us about the same time from England. The general expectation 
was that the period was at hand when we were to be relieved from our 
unpleasant situation and get into the town.. We diove in the enemy's 
pickets with this impression and expected to annihilate Jackson's force 
in an instant, but to our great moriitUation we found after pushing on 
about three miles that his army had entrenched itself in a strong posi- 
tion with its right on the river ami it.s left resting on a swampy wood, 
which we afterwards discovered to be impenetrai)le, with redoubts in 
front mounting fifteen pieces of canuijn. A twenty -gun ship had moved 
down and was anchored in such a situation as to fire down our line in 
case of [our] attempting an as.sauU. Not one of these obstacles had " 
been foreseen and our troops rushed on headlong till brought up by 
the ditch in front of the American line. They were of a nature not to 
be surmounted and we were constrained to fall hack without reach 
from shot from their lined and ship, with loss. Sir Edward then deter- 
mined upon cannonading the enemy so an to oblige him to quit his 
strong ground or by making breaches, force hi.s way through them, to 
effect which thirty pieces of ordnance of all dc-icriptiona were got ashore 
and placed in Katteries on New Year's Eve. New Year's Day afforded us 
a sight of flreworks. pop guns, raurtars and rockets such as has been 


seldom witnessed even in Lord Wellington's great actions in the Pen- 
insula. However, this attempt was unsuccessful and we sustained a 
further loss of nearly a hundred men. The last resource was now to 
storm the lines and the day was tixed for the 8th instant. It was eo 
arranged that a party should cross the river in boats. We were enabled 
to get into it by a canal we had been employed the previous day in 
cutting from our previous landing place, which was to take their enfilad- 
ing batteries on the opposite side in reverse to prevent our suffering 
from them as we advanced to the storm. The party succeeded with a 
trifling loss in taking all the cannon mounted there, eighteen in num- 
ber. The principal attack upon the lines failed, notwithstanding the 
success upon the opposite side, and the public papers will sufficiently 
explain to you the loss the army has met with in the loss of Generals 
Pakenham and Gibbs and the number of regimental officers and about 
2000 men. In fact it had the effect to depress the spirits of the Army 
so far that General Lambert, our present General-in-.Chief, immediately 
after the action determined upon a re-embarkation and began to put our 
wounded on board the same day and successively shipped off our stores, 
men and guns, with the exceptilon of our heavy ship guns we were 
obliged to destroy, until this day, when the last of the troo^^s were 
got off. 

To mention individual suffering is perhaps ridiculous, but until this 
day, since the 15th of last month, when I left the ship. I have not had 
the comfort of a change of linen or any other than a blanket and great 
coat could afford me either in boats night and day exposed alternately 
to rain and frost or hutted on shore on swampy ground, so that you 
can easily figure to yourself the change to the captain's cabin of a fine 
frigate, sitting before a large fire that I am enjoying on this present 
writing. Not only our prospects of prize money have vanished but i)ro- 
motion also, which I fully expected would have followed success. No 
plans for the future operations of the army have yet been suggested. 
It Is generally supposed w^e shall attack :\Iobile, but I differ from others 
in this particular. I do not conceive it to be of sufficient importance, 
but rather conclude we shall sail away for New Providence or Bermuda 
and -remain in either of those islands until reinforcements can reach us 
from England and general officers to command wilth fresh instructions, 
on which point I shall not fail to write you when they are determined 
on. I have omitted to inform you the enemy had unknown to the Ad- 
miral five gungoats of a superior class on the lakes which were discov- 
ered by accident by Captain Gordon of the "Seahorse" most fortunately 
for the army, as they would have destroyed the troops in the boats as 
they were conveying through the lakes; these were captured by the 
boats of the Squadron. 

With kind regards to my Aunt and Cousins. 

Yours affectionately, 
(Signed) C J. FORBES. 


5S - 

BER, 1860. 
(Contributed by his daui^hter, Mrs. L. R. Harris.) 
To the People of West Baton Rouge. 
Hon. Wm. B. Robertson, West Baton Rouge. 

Dear Sir — Believing that the State of Louisiana should withdraw 
from the Union by the action of the Convention to assemble at Baton 
Rouge on the 23rd day of January next, and well knowing your views on 
the subject, request you to become a candidate to represent this parish. 
F. A. Williams Felix Hebert J. T. Nolan 

Thompson W. Bird T. Derichebourg Z. F. Babin 

A. J. Bird R. Hebert R. J. Hebert 

Gustave Serret R. Hebert, Jr. B. Stevens 

T. Blanc\»ard E. LeBail B. Landry 

Richard Planrahan J. J. Libby Jos. J. Denham 

i J. A Leveque, Jr. E. A. B. Hanks J. A. Leveque, Sr. 

I -Allen S. Denham J. T. Landry Wm. Nolan 

I Alfred Babin Alfred Hebert W. G. Bird 

I Gentlemen: 

I Your letter requesting me to become a candidate for the Conven- 

; tion, has been received. In this great crisis, no one should refuse to 

occupy the position assigned him by his friends, or shrink from defining 
! ■ his opinions clearly and unequivocally. 

The "Irrepressible Conflict" has been tendered us by the election of 

an Abolition President, upon the avowed principle of destruction to 

'. '[ ' Slavery. There is no mistaking the issue. But four years since, Fremont 

polled one million three hundred thousand Abolition votes. So rapid has 

been the increase of fanatacism at the North, that we now have, in the 

recent election of Mr. Lincoln, nearly two millions of people of the 

Northern States who have declared their purpose .not to rest until the 

I ■ foot of a slave will not press the soil of America. Such a large body of 

:■ citizens of one section of this Union entertaining such sentiments of 

hostility to another section, has justly alarmed the South, and induces 

her to resort to the only remedy left her. 

The Southern States, with the exception of the Nullification Act of 
j South Carolina in 1832, have never refused to obey a Federal law or 

i violated a constitutional obligation, whilst the Northern States, almost 

j in a body, have confederated to do so, for more than thirty years past: 

i and I would call your attention to the fact, that whilst a party of our 

I fellow-citizens desire us to wait and ask for guarantees and amend- 

i • ments to the Constitution, not a single Northern State is moving in the 

right direction to give them to us. If the plain constitutional provision 
I • for the rendition of fugitive slaves, the Fugitive Slave law, and the 

I decision of the Supreme .Court of the United States, declaring slaves to 

[ be property, are scouted at by the North now, can we hope that guar- 

I antees and amendments to the Constitution, wrung from them- under 

! the exigencies of this occasion, will ever be respected? They would 

only view such. measures as a new lease giving them firmer grounds 
upon which to base their attacks upon slavery within the Union. Are 
" - we to w^ait until we can knock at the door of the Legislatures of eighteen 

different Abolition States, begging them for guarantees, when, in the 
mean time, we shall float under and through an Abolition Administra- 
tion, under an Abolition President? No, gentlemen. In this great move- 
v-:. ment of our Southern sister States for independence and security for 

• :; our institutions, I have no intention, so far as I am concerned, to give 


aid and comfort to those who are desirous of placing the case of Lou- 
isiana at the foot of a "Dead Docket." 

■ Whilst the Northern States have never given one inch upon this 
subject, but have steadily advanced and occupied positions which we 
have abandoned, the South has been compromising', conciliating and re- 
ceding, for the sake of the Union, until she is driven to the wall. Lou- 
isiana, then, must deal with facts, not visionary schemes or imprac- 
ticable propositions. Before she assembles in Convention, the five 
Cotton States will be out of the Union, to be speedily followed by Texas 
and Arkansas. Shall we remain in the Union, wedged in between 
these States, to become, in case the Federal Government should resort 
to coercion, the receptacle of Federal troops and Wide Awake volunteers 
to subdue them; and further, to have our citizens drafted as militia, 
and called out under the pretense of executing the laws of the Union? 
Never; forbid it. Heaven! 

Differing so radically as the North does from the South in her 
opinions, feelings and prejudices, upon the subject of the two systems of 
labor — slave and free — having such a large scope of territory over 
which each may expand and flourish — having population sufficient to 
make two powerful nations, is it not far better for us to separate, the 
North having a government suitable to her idea, and the South ibasing 
hers upon institutions congenial to her interests? If we cannot do this 
peaceably, then we have gained nothing by the principles of the Declara- 
tion of Independence and those which guided us in our separation from 
Great Britain, nor shall we have advanced one whit beyond the Euro- 
pean doctrine of the divine right of Kings, if the Federal Government 
dares to take their place and usurp the power expressly refused by the 
framers of the Constitution, to coerce a seceding State. 

There is no danger that Louisiana will find herself alone should she 
go out of the Union. Besides the States already mentioned, Virginia, 
Tennessee, and the other border States, will soon follow. They will 
never consent to have one million five hundred thousand slaves walled 
up between a Southern Confederacy on one side, and Northern Fanati- 
cism on the other; nor will they ever agree to deliver to the Demon of 
Abolitionism twelve hundred millions of dollars in value of such property. 
Viewing the whole ground, if it were not a matter of choice, it be- 
comes a matter of necessity for Louisiana to resume her sovereignty 
and sever her connection with the Federal Government. Secession is 
the only remedy. The right to withdraw from the Union is not pro- 
hibited to the States; it is, therefore, one of the reserved rights, and is 
the highest attribute of a separate and distinct nationality. The Con- 
stitution gives the Federal Government no power to coerce a State, 
as a political body. If, then. Secession is a wrong, as some have con- 
tended, It is a wrong without a remedy. In this emergency, we must 
act promptly. No Southern State has, in an a^ithoritative manner, 
asked for a conference, nor have we time to act before the inaugura- 
tion of Mr. Lincoln, whilst in the Union. 

Should the votes of my fellow-citizens of West Baton Rouge elect 
me to a seat in the Convention, I shall advocate immediate and uncon- 
ditional Secession upon the part of the State, and the appointment of 
delegates to a Congress of the Seceding States, in order to organize a 
Government to meet Mr Lincoln and the Irrepressible Conflict, face to 
face, on the 4th of ri^Iarch next. .., 

Thanking you for this mark of your confidence, 

I remain, very respectfully yours, 

To Dr. J. T. Nolan and others. 


Outside cover: 
The above inscription with a ship, "The ,City of Baton Roug-e," un- 
der full steam, with a city in the background, 


i First page: 

! • • MENU 

i "Moderation is the silken string running 

through the pearl chain of all virtues." 

Dry Martini Cocktail 
Oyster Cocktail 

"Drink no longer water, but use a little 
i wine for thy stomach's sake." 

I ^ ' Soft Shell Turtle Soup with Sherry \\'ine 

I ' "Soup of the evening, beautiful soup." 

I ■ . Baked Tenderloin Trout with White Wine Sauce 

1 , ' Oyster and Shrimp Garnishment 

i Croquette Potatoes 

i "We've had enough of welcome, let's 

:' have a little fish; Sauterne 

: A tableful of welcome makes scarce 

I one dainty dish." "Drink not the third glass which 

; . k thou canst not tame." 

. • Roast Turkey, Chestnut Dressing, Jelly 

f'^ench Peas 
"Far off fowls have feathers fair, and aye 

until you try them St. Julien 

; :• Though they seem fair, still have a care 

they may prove waur than I am." "Drink deep or taste not." 

Asparagus Vinaigrette 
"Who lined himself with hope, eating, the 

air on promise of supply." Sparkling Burgundy 

■ . "There are five excuses for drinking: 

\ ■ _ .\ The visit of a guest, present thirst, 

I ." Thirst to come, the goodness of the wine 

_ or any other excuse." 

• Ice Cream Assorted Cakes 

"The last taste of sweets is sweetest last 

Writ in remembrance more than things long past." 
"Coffee whicli makes the learned judges wise. 

And see all things with their half-shut eyes." 
Cigars and Cigarettes 

"Most of our fortunes tonight shall be — 
drunk to bed." — Shakespeare. 

-.-.-. Second page 

■ - . ,' ■ ■ ■ . . . I 


"Speeches cannot be made long enough for the speakers, nor 
short enough for the hearers."— Perry. 


Dr. Robert L. Tullis. Toastmaster 
, "A good speech is a good thing-, but the 

verdict is THE thing." — O'Connell. 
MAYOR ALEX GROUCHY, JR.— Baton Rouge the City: What Will She 

Do for Her New Port? 
"Sleep after toyle, port after storrnie seas." — Spenser. 

HON. MARTIN BEHRMAN— New Orleans, Second Port, U. S. A. 
"Pride in their port, defiance in their eye." — Goldsmith. 

HON. JARED Y. SANDERS— The Mississippi River; Will the Pork Bar- 
rel Be Open for He/ New Port? 
"From the whole hog to be debarred. 
Because a single part had been forbidden; 
So one took a leg, another a shoulder, a third 

and a fourth, and so on, each his special tid-bit." 

— Arabian Apologue. 

HON. LOUIS U. BABIN — At the Public Trough— Sinecures of Uncle Sam. 
"To labor is the lot of man, 
And when Jove gave us life he gave us woe." — Homer. 

JUDGE GEORGE K. FAVROT— Baton Rouge— Her Past. Her Present, 

Her Future. 
"The good old times — all times are good when old." — Byron. 
"We know what we are, but not what we may be." — Shakespeare. 

HON. W. Mc. BARROW— Our Port and Future Transportation. 
"O could I flow like thee and make my stream 
My great example, as it is my theme." — Denham. 

"States, as great engines, move slowly." — Bacon. 


"And a sailor has a sweetheart in ev'ry port.*' 

[Note. — Mayor Behrman had come to Baton Rouge, but was recalled 
by a telegram before the banquet. Jji the absence of Mr. Cazedessus. the 
Toastmaster spoke to this toast. Impromptu toasts were given by Mr. 
D. T. W^arden of the Standard Oil Company, of New York; Mr. D. D. 
Moore, Editor of the "Times-Picayune;" Mr. Helm, of the L. R. & N. 
Co.; Mr. Piatte of the Gulf Coast Lines; Mr. Fort, of the Y. & M. V.; 
Mr. Porteous, of the Western Union.] 


Whereas, January 16, 1917, will mark the Centennial Anniversary of 
the Incorporation of the City of Baton Rouge; and, 

W^hereas, the Historical Society of East and West Baton Rouge 
have planned a celebration of the event with a program including a 
meeting of the local and state historical societies, a pageant delineating 
certain epochs in the history of Baton Rouge, and terminating in a 
grand ball; now, _ , - . 


1'herefore, I, Alexander Grouchy, Jr., Mayor of the City of Baton 
Rouge, do hereby issue this my proclamation naming and desi^'nating 

TUESDAY, JANUARY 17, 1917, - 

a gala day for the celebration of the Centennial Anniversary of the In- 
corporation of the City of Baton Rouge, and hereby call upon all mer- 
chants and citizens to join with the Historical Society in making the 
day a memorable one in the history of our city, by decorating their 
homes and places of business and in every way assist in making festive 
the occasion. 

Given under my hand and the Seal of the City of Baton Rouge, 
[Seal] La., this Sth day of January, 1917. 

(Signed) A. GROUCHY, JR., Mayor. 
W. P. BURDEN, Secretary. 

(From the "State-Times" of January 10.) 

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